By JEFF ZUPANIC
Not even a state record will keep Brookfield from believing it has a chance to win a championship when the Warriors step on the course this morning for the final day of the Division III state golf tournament at NorthStar Golf Club.
Campbell’s Dean Austalosh has title hopes, too.
Welllington School shot a 295, which is the lowest single-day score in state golf history and it was good enough to put them 14 strokes ahead of Brookfield’s 309.
Warriors head coach Larry Smoot believes they’re within striking distance of first place while having a firm grasp on second place with a commanding 22-stroke lead over Canton Central Catholic (331).
Wellington, Brookfield and Central Catholic will be paired together in the final threesome, which is scheduled to start at 9:50 a.m.
“I kind of like being the team doing the hunting instead of being the one that’s being hunted,” said Smoot.
Brookfield’s Justin Atkinson led the way with a 73 followed by Conner Stevens and Anthony Clark’s 74s. Jake Shingledecker shot an 88 and Jon Hiner carded a 91.
Atkinson, Stevens and Clark are all in contention for the individual title. So too is Austalosh, who had a 77 on Friday.
Campbell head coach Rick Gozur was pleased with Austalosh’s round after a slow start.
“Dean is currently 11th out of the 72 golfers and is just five strokes off the pace. He’s in a pretty good place right now,” Gozur said. “Dean had a grind it out kind of day. If he needed to sink a putt, he did it. If he needed to hit a good drive, he did it. He recovered nicely after a rocky start to his first nine holes.”
Wellington had four of its five golfers score under 76, including a pair of 72s from the No. 3 and 4 slot. The fifth man shot a 90.
Smoot doesn’t feel the 14-stroke difference is insurmountable by any stretch.
“Even if we don’t get a few lucky breaks and make some ground we still three of the top five individual scores and we have guys that can still win individual state titles, so that’s something to shoot for today,” Smoot said. “We have a lot to play for and I am excited to be out there. I hope we can put pressure on them by getting off to a good start and that will bring their scores up. I think we played well but can play a little better.”
Brookfield won’t be wearing red like Tiger Woods does in the final day of a PGA event, but they are piggybacking off a Woods’ idea.
“We will be wearing our white pants and that’s our Tiger moment,” said Smoot with a laugh. “We haven’t been able to wear them much this year. We wore them at Tannenhauf [to win the district] and we will be wearing them again.”