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FOXFIRE VILLAGE — Fike High sophomore Jake Herring found himself five shots off the leading pace after carding a 2-over-par 42-32—74 in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A golf state championship Monday over the par-72 Red Fox Course layout at Foxfire Resort and Golf Club.
Herring’s predicament wasn’t helped by rough start, influenced by an unpleasant meeting with the starter on the No. 1 tee. Herring’s group was the first to play off off the No. 1 tee Monday morning.
Fike coach Glenn Jones reported that Herring was impolitely addressed by the starter and said the NCHSAA regional director apologized to (Jones) for the starter’s conduct.
“It affected him the first nine holes,” Jones insisted. “I know it affected him. Jake held it together better than expected.”
But a so-so start worsened with double bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9.
However, Herring rebounded by firing a 4-under 32 on the back nine. The performance included birdies at Nos. 10, 11, 14, 15 and 18.
Jones cited the poor condition of several greens, ever-changing wind speeds and the inconsistency of the sand in the bunkers. Herring was plagued by a trio of 3-putts.
Still, Herring occupied a share of fifth place with four other participants.
Charlotte Catholic senior Jack Heath set the pace with a 3-under 69. Junior Brady Hooks of Clayton trailed by a shot with a 70. Drew Hackett, also of Charlotte Catholic and South Brunswick’s Walker Isley tied for third with 72s.
Charlotte Catholic grabbed the team lead with a 5-over-par 293, opening up a whopping 13-shot lead against second-place Clayton (306). Another nine shots back in third was Greenville Rose (315).
Jones definitely considers Herring, who was 13th last year, as a title contender. Fike’s coach pointed out the 2018 champion, sophomore Ethan Hall of West Carteret, rebounded from an opening 75 to shoot 4-under 68 the final round and capture the 3-A championship with a 36-hole total of 143. Hall posted an 84 Monday.
“It might take 140 or better,” Jones speculated, “and Jake can go low. He can really play this course.”
Herring’s tee time for Tuesday’s final round will be around noon.
“I just hope he doesn’t have the same starter,” Jones remarked.