Milford’s Strassle top Henlopen player on first day of state golf

Kyle Strassle

TOWNSEND — Kyle Strassle knows that scoreboard watching usually only puts too much pressure on a golfer.

So the Milford High senior says he wasn’t even aware of some of the low numbers being put up during the first round of the DIAA state golf tournament on Tuesday.

“I know what I can shoot and I just try to shoot that,” said Strassle. “I’m not going to try to do anything out of my realm.”

That philosophy worked again for the two-time Henlopen Conference champion as he carded a solid, two-over-par 74 to sit tied for seventh after the opening round of the state tourney at Odessa National Golf Club.

The top downstate finisher a year ago when he placed fourth, Strassle again had the best score for a Henlopen player on Tuesday. He and Sussex Academy eighth-grader Hannah Lydic — who is tied for 14th with a 77 — are the only downstaters in the Top 20 going into today’s final round.

Just five players played the par-72 course at even or better, led by Red Lion Christian’s Austin Barbin, who carded a four-under par 68.

As has been the case in the last two years, female players are again dominating the top of the leaderboard. After Barbin, Tower Hill’s Jennifer Cleary (70), Padua’s Haley Quickel (70), Archmere’s Pheobe Brinker (71) and A.I. DuPont’s Esther Park hold down the next four spots.

Brinker is the 2016 state champion while Park won the title a year ago.

In the team standings, first-place Tower Hill put up a 296 to lead second-place Salesianum (307) by 11 shots. Henlopen Conference regular-season champion Caesar Rodney is fifth with a 338.

Hannah Lydic

Sixty players made the cut for today’s round at 93 or better.

Strassle had four bogeys in Tuesday’s round. But he also picked up a pair of birdies in a three-hole stretch on No. 14 and 16.

“It’s his second time playing the course and he was one-over the first time he played it,” said Milford coach Todd French. “So two-over’s not bad for him. He definitely left some out there.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s matured a lot over the last four years.”

The most frustrating thing for Strassle on Tuesday was the pace of play. His round took five and a half hours to complete.

“It helped me with my putting — I got to really read the lines,” said Strassle. “It’s hard to not swing for a few minutes but it’s fine.

“Tomorrow I just want to play the same way I did today. I know I left a couple strokes out there. I would like to go as low as I can. It is my last year.”

While Strassle is at the end of his high school career, Sussex Academy’s Lydic is just at the beginning of hers.

The 14-year-old from Ocean View has actually been playing the sport for eight years already. Lydic looks up to the state’s top female players — particularly Brinker, who won her state title when she was just an eighth-grader.

“She’s kind of one of my role models,” said Lydic. “She’s two years older than me but she’s already signed with Duke and that’s really cool.

“I’m just looking to see how well I can do tomorrow. I left a lot of strokes out there and I really want to get them back.”

Lydic carded three birdies on Tuesday. Indeed, if she hadn’t taken a triple bogey on No. 14, she’d be in the top 10, too.

Lydic’s average of 38.7 (for nine holes) was the second-lowest in the conference this season as the Seahawks won the Henlopen South title.

“I know she’s disappointed but, for an eighth grader, I thought she did great,” said Sussex Academy coach Michael Loftus. “She stepped up. She was playing against men so I’m very proud of her.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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