RALEIGH — Wins by Harnett Central and West Johnston in the first two Greater Neuse River 4A Conference boys golf matches of the season signaled the change that’s going on the league. Tuesday’s third match, held at River Ridge, was another signal as the Trojans and Wildcats shared team honors, tying with scores of 159 in a nine-hole match.
Ties were the theme of the day as three golfers shared medalist honors: West’s Ben Lacombe and Scott Freeman and Central’s Alex Molgaard all finished at 1-over-par, 37.
Central continues to show the way in the league standings with 22 ½ points, ahead of West at 21 points. Clayton holds a half-point lead on Garner for third. The top four finishing teams in the regular season advance to regionals. Clayton totaled 170 on Tuesday, four shots clear of Garner.
Lacombe played his first eight holes 1-under par with birdies on the par-5 4th and the 393-yard seventh but his bid for the first under par round of the Greater Neuse River Conference season fell just short as he double bogeyed the first, his finishing hole.
Lacombe’s finish moved him into the season top 10 standings, just five shots behind teammate Freeman, who was the conference runner-up individually last season.
“For us to be a contender Ben Lacombe needed to improve and we needed to get a fourth score that we could rely on,” said West coach Allen Bunch. “Ben has been working really hard and it paid off in the match today.”
The middle of Freeman’s round featured all kinds of excitement – good and bad. He tripled the par-4 third but bounced back with an eagle at the par-5 fourth, then bogeyed the fifth. He followed that with a birdie on the par-5 seventh to get back to 1-over, then pared his last three holes to complete his round of 37.
West also picked up a 42 from David Chavis and a 43 from Brice Connors
“Freshman Brice Connors has been able to give us a fourth score the last two conference matches to give us a chance to compete for the match,” Bunch said. “We have had three different guys lead us in scoring in the three conference matches. But probably the key for us is that Scott, David and Ben have been really good leaders for our guys.”
Molgaard of Harnett Central got off to a bumpy start, bogeying the second and third holes before eagling the 549-yard, par 5 fourth. He added another bogey on the seventh to fall back to 1-over par, but pared out for his 37.
Zach Freeman added a 39 for Central, while Brendon Johnson shot 41.
Clayton was led by Reid Hooks’ 41 and a 42 from Lee Smith. Matt King (43) and Alex Owens (44) also notched team scores for the Comets.
Garner’s Michael Otteson finished just a shot out of the individual lead with a 2-over-par, 38. Matteo Ceyrolles shot 43, while Kyle Gilman contributed a43 and Nolan Leonard shot 48.
Knightdale sits fifth in the league rundown, having finished fifth in all three conference matches.
Justin Smith shot a solid 41 for the Knights who totaled 185, while Shawn Simpson added a 44. Xavier Paulng finished at 49 and Zach Presley was at 51 for Knightdale.
Smithfield-Selma was sixth at 204 with Will Creech shooting 49 and Cooper Andrews adding a 50.
East Wake and Southeast Raleigh tied for seventh. East had just four golfers in the field and thus no room for scoring errors. Joe Edwards showed the way at 47, while Tyler Mendelson shot 49.
Robert Wright finished at 46 for Southeast and Jack Olson shot 49.
The league makes the shift to 18-hole matches this week with another visit to River Ridge. Bunch is hopeful the move will benefit the Wildcats.
“Going from nine- to 18-hole matches hopefully will work to our advantage since we have played in both the Keith Hills and the Clayton invitationals,” Bunch said. “In 18 hole matches there are so many more holes to either let a good round go bad or turn it around. Hopefully, experience will be in our favor.”
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