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Leopards fall out of state golf team title chase

October 23, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

WALDORF, Md. - The Smithsburg golf team's main goal was to be successful as one.

Today, that success will have to be as two. A pair of Leopards will be competing for individual titles after Smithsburg failed to advance as a team in the Maryland 1A/2A state tournament on Wednesday at Potomac Ridge Golf Club.

Smithsburg missed the cut, shooting 363 to finish fourth in the six-team field and finish well behind the top three of North Point (330), Glenelg (348) and Easton (352).

Chris Bushey and Haeun Lee each carded 81s on the sunny, blustery day but the Leopards couldn't make up any ground as A.J. Minnich posted a 100 and Bo Phillips shot a 101.

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"We strived to reach our No.1 goal as a team and that's all we talked about," said Smithsburg coach Dan Neff. "We knew we'd have to be around 350 and that the chances would be difficult with a lack of experience in the state and the conditions."

Lee was the only player with postseason experience, but she, too, fell prey to the elements and a balky putter that put 37 strokes on her scorecard.

Playing the girls' yardage at just under 5,000 yards, the wind made club selection difficult and also made for very dry and fast greens.

"The greens were the fastest I played all year and the wind made one or two clubs different in what to use," said Lee.

Lee's hiccups came mostly on a pair of par-5s with double bogeys that led to a 40-41 card.

Bushey also needed 37 putts over the 6,280-yard boys' layout to shoot 39-42.

"I had eight putts lip out from inside six feet," said Bushey. "The wind affected some and you had to club up or down, but most of it was a crosswind."

Momentum was on the side of the Leopards heading into the state tournament after winning in the Washington County and Antietam Conference titles.

"We just weren't ready to play as a team," said Neff. "Chris and Lee just didn't finish off putts and I just think our overall inexperience showed today."

Bushey and Lee were both on the putting green after their rounds while the final first-round scores were posted.

"It happens," said Bushey of Smithsburg missing the team cut.

But today looms as another day as individuals as those Class 1A/2A and 3A/4A players survived the survival round. It includes all but one member of the Washington County contingent.

Joining Bushey and Lee will be Williamsport's Zach Weber (46-44-90), Clear Spring's T.J. Socks (46-45-91) and North Hagerstown's Becky Gossard (48-45-93).

North Hagerstown's Kyle Walters missed the cut with a 96.

LaPlata's Jay Dove leads the boys' division after shooting a 4-over-par 75 in 3A/4A on Tuesday. Anne Arundel's Lauren Smith shot a 78 to lead the girls.

"Oh my!" said Weber of his round. "I just didn't play very good, but I'll make it better (today)."

Weber's card included a 10 on the 495-yard, par-5 seventh hole, which was also the downfall for Socks and Gossard as each carded double bogeys.

"I was a little nervous," said Socks, playing in his first state event. "The greens were fast and dried out. I'll come back and shoot in the 80s."

Today's finals is a shotgun round, begining at 9 a.m., to crown the overall boys and girls champions, along with the 1A/2A and 3A/4A team champions.

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