SMITHFIELD — In the inaugural Two Rivers 3A Conference boys golf match, held at the Country Club of Johnston County in cold and wet conditions, the test was going to be to see which team could find its form right out of the gate.
Corinth Holders proved to be most up to the task, as the Pirates appeared to be in midseason form already in placing first with a combined team score of 320.
Cleveland finished second with 350 while South Johnston nipped Western Harnett by just one stroke for third place with 356.
Sam Baxter was one of only two golfers on the day to break 80 on the par-72 course with a 78 while teammates Will Stanley (80), Monty Fields and Kellen Labonte (81 each) helped to register four of the day’s top seven scores for Corinth Holders.
Despite team No. 1 Nick Routhier unable to put together his usual stellar round on a day marked by light rain, tough lies and slow greens, Corinth Holders’ depth was more than enough to claim the first conference match of the season.
“My No. 1 had a tough day but they all made up for it,” Corinth Holders coach Theresa Gale said. “That’s what they do – when one plays bad, the others come through. That’s how we got to states last year and won regionals.
“We’re starting pretty much where we left off last year.”
As the Pirates were able to rely on their experience to persevere in the tough playing conditions, South Johnston’s Patrick Stephenson’s ability to manage the course and read the speed of the greens led to medalist honors.
Stephenson shot 3-under on the par-5s and finished with a 1-under 71. He was able to hit irons into the greens on three of the four par-5s but managed to birdie hole No. 11 after laying up thanks to a solid wedge shot.
“It was super wet,” Stephenson said. “There were a lot of shots where I just laid up so I could have a good lie so I wouldn’t hit it fat.”
While many players had a difficult time reading the speed of the greens from hole to hole, Stephenson fared considerably better in gauging how hard he had to hit his putts so they would cozy up to the hole.
“I hit so many putts that I thought I hit 15 feet past that stopped three feet past,” said Stephenson. “I’ve never putted on greens that slow before but they were smooth.”
Cleveland finished in second place and the Rams were paced by sophomore Patrick Schweitz (80). Senior Morgan Berger carded an 89.
Triton’s Nick Page also shot 80 to help the Hawks edge Smithfield-Selma for fifth place by just two strokes.
The Spartans were led by Ethan Faulconer’s 86.