Boys Golf

Josh Martin leads way for Pinecrest at Clayton-Neuse Invitational March 17, 2014 

— Josh Martin’s second consecutive win in the Clayton-Neuse Invitational was a little more comfortable than the first. So was the team victory Martin and his Southern Pines Pinecrest teammates recorded over Charlotte Myers Park.

Martin fired a 6-under-par 66 to take the individual title by seven shots and Pinecrest, which beat Myers Park in a team playoff for the 4A state title last spring, had a matching seven-stroke advantage (297-304) on the par-72 Neuse Golf Club layout.

The tournament brought together 20 teams from across the state in the first major high school invitational event of the Triangle-area season.

Cornelius Hough was third at 306, while Millbrook took fourth at 311.

Martin won with his third straight round in the 60s in the tournament. He shot 67 last year and 69 as a freshman.

“I just put the ball in play all day and that’s the biggest key on this golf course,” Martin said. “I could have putted a little better maybe, but I got some short birdie putts to fall early and that gave me some good momentum.”

He had tap-in birdies on the par-5 fourth hole and the par-4 fifth before draining a 15-footer for a two on the par-3 seventh.

When he birdied the 12th to move to 5-under-par, the junior standout thought to himself, “Hey, I could go really low.”

He moved to 6-under after a 10-footer fell in for birdie at the 411-yard 16th, then gave himself a shot at eagle (and 8-under-par) with a 7-iron to within 20 feet at the par-5 17th. That putt rolled just by, but he tapped in the birdie to move to 7-under.

A bogey on the 18th – his first in 35 holes during the past two tournaments – gave him a 66 and the victory.

“I’m usually pretty good about judging an entire round, and I knew the best other score was somewhere around 73, so I just didn’t want to make a big number.”

Martin finished seven shots ahead of a four-way tie for second between Athens Drive’s Eric Bae, Will Minton of Broughton, Blake Wagoner of Hough and D.K. Kim of Waxhaw Marvin Ridge.

“We knew we’ll always see good teams at invitationals like this,” Martin said. “You’re going to come here and see the same teams that you’re going to see on the state championship stage.”

Five players shot 75: Junior Schrickx of Durham Riverside, Stephen Franken of Millbrook, Zack Daltorio of Green Hope and Myers Park’s Hoke Carlton and Nolan Mills.

Corinth Holders (331) finished 10th. Kellen Labonte led Corinth Holders with an 81.

West Johnston finished 16th in the field at 359.

South Johnston sophomore Patrick Stephenson, competing as an individual entry, carded an 83.

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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