FRONT ROYAL -- Strasburg head golf coach Joel Morgan said his team may have been looking ahead a little bit to Wednesday’s important Bull Run District match against Madison County. Pair that with the Rams’ struggles with the greens at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, and Strasburg had a ho-hum day at the Skyline Invitational on Tuesday afternoon.
The Rams fired a four-golfer collective of 354 strokes to place 11th in the 17-team event won by Loudoun Valley (300), which edged runner-up Freedom (305) by five strokes for the title.
“The consensus from, especially our top four kids, was I think we struggled on the greens today,” said Morgan, whose team can guarantee itself a Region 2B tournament spot with a district regular-season title. “I think they tend to get you a little bit. I think what happened was the course is short, you get on the green but then you’ve got to finish and the hole gets to be tough at times.”
Strasburg senior Drew Thomas, who led all 30 local golfers with an 80 (+8) on Tuesday and trailed individual champ Isabel Bae (68), of Brentsville, by 12 strokes, agreed that his short game was to blame. He said he didn’t feel very happy with the district and regional tournaments approaching in a couple weeks.
“I was kind of frustrated today just because my putting was bad,” he said. “I felt like I hit the ball good, I just wasn’t able to score because my putting really let me down today. I had a bunch of three-putts, missed a lot of short ones. I had a bunch of lip-outs, so I really felt like I putted pretty decent today, hit some nice putts but I just got unlucky.”
Elevated scores seemed to be a theme for the five local schools in attendance on Wednesday. Strasburg’s 11th-place finish was the best of those five teams, with Skyline (12th, 365), Central (14th, 381), Sherando (15th, 383) and Warren County (17th, 424) all finishing in the back half of the pack.
Besides Thomas, only three other local golfers -- Sherando’s Parker Gregg (83), Strasburg’s Colin Kosubinsky (86) and Skyline’s Noah Williams (88) -- broke 90 on the par-72 course played on the Blue and Red nines.
Like Thomas, Gregg said his round Wednesday left something to be desired. Unlike the Strasburg senior, Gregg said his struggles came in the tee box.
“Pretty bad, honestly,” Gregg said when asked how he felt about his round. “I just wasn’t hitting the ball well. Luckily we’re not at districts yet, so I still have time to kind of fix my game a little bit. But I just wasn’t hitting the ball. I don’t know, I was just off today.”
Skyline head coach Monty Goff was left surprised at how much his team seemed to struggle at its home event. In addition to Williams’ 88, Caleb Dotson shot a 90, Gabe Smith a 92 and Zach Karnes a 95.
“A little bit higher than I’d like for them. I mean we’ve been playing this golf course enough, and they’ve been playing good throughout the year,” said Goff, noting that his team is still struggling with putting. “What gets me is that they’re playing better away from here than they are actually here. It’s not that it’s frustrating, it’s just that I’m surprised because we go out and we play every day. You would think this would be so much easier. We’ve got the lineup based on where they want to play, so there shouldn’t be any pressure, and I thought we had gotten to a point where if they made a bad hole, they would shake it off.”
Central, which posted the best local team score at the Curly Licklider Memorial Tournament at the same course on Aug. 7, doesn’t play again until the Class 3 Northwestern District tournament on Sept. 23, and first-year head coach Dustin Thomas said he wanted to see a little bit more out of the Falcons heading into their two-week break.
Central No. 1 Michael French led the way with a 92, an uncharacteristically high score for the senior. Ben Walters added a 94, Jacob Walters shot a 96 and Camden Nichols and Sam Metcalf each carded 99s.
“Disappointing. Michael was extremely upset with himself because he’s hoping to go to states,” Dustin Thomas said, adding that the Falcons will take a couple days off from practice to regroup. “We don’t have anything until the 23rd, so that gives us almost two weeks to prepare. We’re playing districts at home, so that should be a little bit of familiarity for us. Hopefully we come out and play a good round. We haven’t been playing good golf for the past couple weeks, so it’s been disappointing, but we’re gonna use these two weeks to get back on track.”
Strasburg’s Chris Shelton finished with a 91, while Corey Keller’s 97 completed the Rams’ team scoring.
Ian Adams (95) joined Gregg as the only other Sherando golfer to shoot under 100 on Wednesday, and Warren County’s Michael Kelly (99) was the lone Wildcat in double-digits.