In a welcome change for SouthWest Edgecombe, a season supererlative came at Longlead Golf and Country Club in Southern Pines, and this time it was from the other end of the spectrum.
The Cougars shot their best team score of the season on the first day of the NCHSAA 2-A golf championship, recording a 321 and finishing fifth after 18 holes.
It was a stark contrast to last season’s trip to Longleaf, in which the Cougars – who were state championship contenders – had their worst outing of the season.
“I’m really pleased. This was the best score we’ve shot at Longleaf in three years,” SouthWest Edgecombe coach Jonathan Cobb said. “We may not have the firepower that we had (last year), but we still shot a better score than we have before. I was very impressed.”
The Cougars also have two golfers in the hunt for an individual state championship. Cole Jefferys shot an even-par 71 and Nathan Webb birdied two of his final three holes for a 2-over 73.
Both players will be among the latter tee times today.
Cobb thinks both can challenge for the top spot. After Monday, the pace was set at 69, putting Jefferys two shots off the lead and Webb four strokes away.
“I certainly think the maturity from our older players was there,” Cobb said. “They’ve played the course, but I think Cole and Nathan overcame some anxiety they’ve had about playing there in the past.”
Ryan Chatt shot an 80 and freshman Jack Coltrane shot a 97 to round out the Cougars’ scores.
Cobb particularly was thrilled with Coltrane, who never had played golf before this season.
“I’m impressed by Jack. To never play golf before and progress the way he has and handle things how he has, that’s very impressive to me,” Cobb said.
The course played much differently than SouthWest Edgecombe expected, Cobb said. Longleaf’s greens normally play quickly, and that wasn’t the case Monday.
Cobb said he watched many players leave downhill putts halfway short of the hole, but in a strange twist, many players were hitting their uphill putts far too hard.
Newton-Conover has a strong hold on the team championship. The Red Devils shot a 304, eight strokes ahead of the next closest team.
The Cougars are focused on themselves, Cobb said, and they figure they can improve on Monday. Chatt can shoot in 70s, so Cobb said the potential is there to finish the season with an even better round today.
“I’d like to see them improve on (Monday). That’s all we can really hope for,” Cobb said. “We hit our low score of the season. Now we’re trying to beat our low score one more time.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz @rmtelegram.com