Owen, Villains lead 1A state championship
Bishop McGuinness golf coach Pearse Mahon was targeting 310 as a team score. Villains standout Tanner Owen was looking to go even lower.
They both ended up satisfied, as Bishop, the two-time defending champion, shot 305 on Monday to lead Lake Norman Charter by 14 shots through one round of the NCHSAA 1A state championship at Chapel Hill Country Club.
Behind Lake Norman Charter (319) sit East Surry (327), Riverside-Martin (330) and Avery County (333) as the top five teams in the 12-team field. Today's final round begins this morning at 8, with the Villains teeing off starting at 9:20.
“I thought that if we shot 310 today we might have a small lead,” Mahon said. “The course is playing tough. So, that was kind of the target score for us. So, to shoot 305, I was happy with that. It's probably the toughest course we've played.
“I think we have to better our score (today). I assume everyone's played a practice round here, so it'll be the third round and everyone will be familiar with the course. I imagine every team will improve their scores, and we'll need to do the same.”
Owen shot a 2-under 70 to lead the Villains with the tournament's only sub-par round of the day. Teammate Jonathon Davis is second with a 74 while Voyager Academy's McKenzie Barringer is third with a 75.
Mason Orr shot an 80 while Kevin Sowinski finished with an 81 for Bishop, which shot 292 last week to win the 1A Midwest regional and has handled well the speed and firmness of the Chapel Hill Country Club course.
“I think 310, that was coach's idea,” said Owen, a junior, with a laugh. “I might've had a little different one. He said that if you shoot 310, then you might have a lead or whatever. I want to do a little better than that, but we're not upset at all with what we shot. …
“It'll be good tomorrow. There's a lot of optimism on the team, even though we're ahead but not as far as we'd like. One of the good things about this team is that the motivation to do better is always there. That's just what has driven the team for the year.”
Owen, who finished fourth last year and second two years ago, opened his round with a bogey but made birdies on Nos. 3, 4 and 7 to make the turn at 2-under 34. He shot even-par 36 on the back side, making two birdies and two bogeys.
“I was really playing well through about 11 holes, but then I kind of let it slip away,” he said. “I just didn't finish very strong and dropped a couple shots. So, I shot 70. But I'm happy with that — I putted really well. That's what kept the round going.
“I had a good front nine, then made the turn and made a couple more birdies. I let a couple slip away with some careless mistakes. … But it was steady, for the most part. I had a little more expectations, but, hey, I'm not complaining.”
Since a mid-season meeting, following a few rough matches, the Villains have played much better — boosted by a 29-shot win at regionals. They've managed their play and scores well individually, which, in turn, has produced tremendous results for the team.
“Let me put it this way: If, at the midpoint of the season, I was told we'd have a 13- or 14-shot lead going into day 2 of the states, I would've taken it,” Mahon said with a smile.