Horsfield Still in the Hunt After Firing 78 in 1st Round
Wed. November 02, 2011 at 3:03 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By B.J. PITZEN | LEDGER CORRESPONDENT
Ridge's Sam Horsfield and Tenoroc's Kayla Connors both competed in the first round for the FHSAA State golf title Tuesday.
Horsfield's 78 at Mission Inn Resort & Club's El Campeon course in Howey-in-the-Hills puts the Ridge Community freshman into a tie for 10th place out of 96 Class 2A players. Connors' 89 at Harbor Hills Country Club in Lady Lake sets her at the middle of the pack into a tie for 47th place out of 95 Class 1A girls.
Horsfield, who made 28 putts after hitting nine greens in regulation, made seven bogies and a single birdie en route to 8-over-par in his first trip around the 6,783-yard, par 72 El Campeon track.
The English-born Horsfield hit his 56 degree wedge to 7-feet on the 565-yard, par-5 No. 10 and drained the putt for his lone birdie during a round hampered by a 15-20 mph wind with gusts in the high 20s.
"My short game was good," Horsfield said. "I hit my driver well today but the distance with my irons was off and I was hitting clubs short (of the green)."
Horsfield forced himself to scramble for par more than he is used to, which included a difficult up and down on the 420-yard, par-4 No. 5. Horsfield put himself into a difficult position 20 yards from the pin after two shots and lobbed his delicate third shot over the right front bunker to two feet for the par save.
Horsfield also made par on the difficult, double-dogleg 550-yard, par-5 17th after a solid tee shot down the middle. Horsfield was forced to hit a low-punch 9-iron under the sizeable tree in the fairway to 25-feet, which led to a two-putt par.
Horsfield, who is used to being in high-level tournament situations, recognized many of his competitors from events that he has played in.
"There are a lot of good players here, " Horsfield said. "I know most of the players from the junior tournaments."
Horsfield trails the leader, Pureun Kim of Gainesville, by 10 shots. Kim shot 4-under-par 68 in Tuesday's round. Bradenton's Lakewood Ranch shot a team total of 317 to lead Orlando's Olympia High by two strokes.
Ridge coach Bob McKnight was encouraged with how Horsfield handled the bad shots.
"The way he battled was impressive," McKnight said. "He didn't give up and he kept going."
McKnight does his best to keep Horsfield in the game mentally.
"I try to lighten the mood a bit and keep his mind off the bad stuff," McKnight said. "He (Horsfield) was frustrated after the round, but it lifted his spirits a bit to see the other scores. He didn't play well and he expected to be out of it. He was expecting lower scores."
Connors chalked up seven bogeys, two doubles and two triples in the first round of play on the 5,530-yard, par 72. The only female Polk County golfer to make state was 2-over-par through six holes before making a triple bogey on the 274-yard, par- 4 No. 7. Connors went out in 42 but the wheels started to fall off on the back nine.
"It was a good experience," the Tenoroc Junior said. "My putter was good today but the rest of my game was kinda off. I just wasn't hitting my shots very solid with my woods."
Connors is the first female state qualifier in Tenoroc's school history.
"I didn't think of more pressure," Connors said. "It was definitely bigger and more important but it didn't feel any different when I got going."
Connors, who played practice rounds at Harbor Hills last Friday and Saturday, knows she needs to do better in today's round to move up the leaderboard.
"I kinda wasn't feeling well today," Connors said. "I'll need to hit the ball straighter off the tee tomorrow."
Connors trails Windermere Prep's Shannon Aubert by 17 shots. Aubert shot an even-par 72 to lead by one stroke over her teammate Lauren Gros. Windermere Prep is winning the team event by 13 strokes over Plantation's American Heritage with a 299 total.
Connors' coach Bryan Tarr is optimistic about his star player's future.
"Connors is the first girl at our school to go to states," Tarr said. "She should have a great chance next year."
Horsfield tees off No. 1 at 9:36 a.m. today, while Connors starts on No. 1 at 8:15 a.m.