By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After the first round of the Class 6A State Golf Tournament on Tuesday, the Tupelo Golden Wave are leading.
And, the Tupelo golfers are leading.
Using their experience as three-time defending state champions and home course advantage at Tupelo Country Club to the utmost, Tupelo as a team and individuals dominated the opening round of the 6A title event.
“On the first day, you put yourself in a good position to win, and we did that,” Tupelo coach Mark Enis said. “The guys came out focused today.
“It’s experience. It’s local knowledge. But you still have to put the ball in the hole.”
As a team, the Wave burned the potentially stingy TCC course for a 282 total, and a commanding 30-stroke lead on second place Desoto Central at 312. That 282 total for Tupelo is 6-under par.
Three Tupelo golfers went under par, led by freshman Austin Rose, who carded a 68.
“I think we did good, and the numbers show we did good,” Rose said. “Our experience here is key.”
Barring a dramatic shift in Tupelo fortunes, the battle in the tournament appears to be for second place among the 13 schools entered. Three shots back of Desoto Central is Oak Grove at 315, while Madison Central is fourth at 318.
Starkville is in sixth at 343.
Tupelo Country Club last hosted this event in 2008, the first of the Wave’s current consecutive state title streak.
But Tupelo is not only dominating the team standings, its golfers are dominating the race for medalist honors. Tupelo’s top five are the medalists’ top five through Day 1 of the tournament.
Following Rose’s 68, senior and Mississippi State signee Fletcher Johnson and junior Wilson Reeder are tied at 1-under 71. Junior Noah West carded an even-par 72, and freshman Hayden Buckley posted a solid 1-over 73.
Trailing the Wave golfers in sixth place are Grant Motter of Oak Grove and Leighton Greer of Madison Central, each of who posted a 75 on the day. A total of 12 golfers are within 10 shots of the lead.
“All five of our guys are in the hunt for the medalist,” said Enis, shaking his head almost in disbelief at the level of excellence the Wave achieved Monday. “I would like to see us play better tomorrow, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Rose’s round included birdies on the opening holes of both nines, the par 5 first hole, and the par 4 10th. Rose also had a key par save on No. 17, a par 3 where he made a 15-footer after a wayward tee shot and poor chip.
“That helped build my confidence,” Rose said of his birdies on Nos. 1 and 10. “I didn’t make a lot of putts, but the ones I had to make, I did.”
Play continues this morning in the two-day event.