Fike's Bryson Boyette watches sullenly as his approach putt on the par-3, No. 4 green comes up short in the second of six conference matches at Happy Valley Country Club on Monday.
Tom Ham | Times
Fike golfer Andrew Lohr assesses a difficult situation on the par-3, No. 4 layout at Happy Valley Country Club during Monday’s conference match. From the demanding lie, Lohr managed to get enough club on the ball to get it onto the green.
Tom Ham | Times
Hunt’s Christopher Clark experienced a difficult time with his putting game during Monday’s conference match at Happy Valley Country Club.
Tom Ham | Times
Southern Nash’s Matthew Morgan, watching his approach shot on the par-4, No. 3 layout, again paced the Firebirds with a round of 81 during Monday’s conference match at Happy Valley Country Club.
Both the front-running Fike High boys golf team and individual leader Bryson Boyette, a senior from Fike, stretched leads at Happy Valley Country Club on a pleasant Monday afternoon in the second of six 3-A Big East Conference matches.
The Golden Demons of head coach Glenn Jones posted a 339 for their low four individuals, prevailing by eight shots against runner-up Nash Central (347). Then came Northern Nash (376), Southern Nash (392) and Hunt (393). Rocky Mount did not field the required four players to qualify for a team score.
Individually, Boyette, playing on his home course, paced the field with a round of 39-36—75, 3-over-par, edging second-place Joseph Cook, a senior from Nash Central, by two shots. Cook carded a 38-39—77.
The only other score in the 70s in the 33-player field was a 40-39—79 fashioned by Northern Nash senior Zack Ward. Completing the top five with 81s were Fike senior Candler Matthews (42-39) and Southern Nash senior Matthew Morgan (44-37).
Thus, heading into Wednesday’s rescheduled conference match at The River Golf Course, Fike (676) owns a 27-shot lead against Nash Central (703).
Individually, Boyette, seeking his third consecutive Big East individual championship, finds himself, with a 149 total for two rounds, seven shots ahead of Cook (79-77—156). Matthews stands third at 162, while the No. 4 spot is shared by Morgan and Ward at 164.
However, Fike’s performance on Monday hardly prompted positive feedback from Jones and Boyette.
Jones, expecting a score around 320, admitted the weather has deteriorated since February and practice opportunities have been limited. However, he added: “Some of them need to get more serious about it.”
Boyette challenged his teammates to step up — and he didn’t exclude himself. He reasoned the Demons’ current level of play might be good enough to win another Big East championship and qualify for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East Regional. However, a score of 330-plus will not be sufficient to send the team to the 3-A state tournament.
“I don’t like it either,” Boyette reviewed Monday’s round, “but there were some tough pins and the greens were slick. But I am disappointed with myself — not only because I was playing my home course, but because it was a mediocre round.
“We need to find some heart and there is some practice to be done. The closer we get (to the regional) — we need to get going now. There’s always room for improvement and everybody has got to get better. We all need to pick it up.”
Still, Boyette emerged the medalist for the second time in as many matches with a 3-over round that included birdies at Nos. 14 and 17.
Bookends Boyette and Cook, in Cook’s opinion, played so-so rounds. Cook managed birdies at Nos. 8, 14 and 15, but he never drew even with Boyette as the result of beginning his round with a triple bogey on the par-3, No. 10 layout.
Going into the par-4, No. 9, the final layout for Boyette and Cook, Boyette’s edge against Cook had shrunk to one shot and Cook elected to get aggressive on his 25-foot birdie putt. Cook wound up three-putting for bogey, while Boyette parred.
“I went for (birdie),” Cook admitted. “I made triple bogey to start the round, but I had started gaining ground. I think I could have played well enough to overcome it.
“I think I can stay with (Boyette). We are equally competitive but I always have one or two bad shots that cost me the round. He’s very consistent and holes it out. We’re pretty competitive but we’re good friends. I’ve been struggling but I’m starting to get back into it. But I didn’t play as well today as I had hoped.”
For Southern Nash, Morgan’s mission is a top-five conference finish, which he strengthened with Monday’s round that included a pair of birdies.
“I felt good about it,” Morgan assessed his round. “I played the back really good (1-over 37), but the front nine gave me a little bit of trouble. My putting was really good. I was hoping to shoot in the low 80s, and it could have been better. I lipped out a lot of birdie putts.”
Fike senior Andrew Lohr described himself as a “bipolar” golfer in coming in with a 92 that kept him among the top 10 individuals after two rounds.
Junior Christopher Clark again led Hunt despite an exasperating 91, while freshman Clay Williams responded with a 95.
“I’m hitting the ball like I should be shooting in the 70s,” Clark described his plight, “but I’m putting like I’ve never seen a putter before.”
The Hunt junior was not alone in lamenting over putting woes.