Riders lead state golf tournament by one after first round

DOVER — A one-stroke lead in a team golf tournament — with 18 holes still left — isn’t worth much.

But it certainly beats the alternatives.

So Caesar Rodney High will gladly take its one-shot lead after the first round of the DIAA golf state tournament on Tuesday.

The Riders, though, know they still have a lot of work to do if they’re going to capture the program’s fourth state crown in the last seven years.

CR stands at 216, second-place Archmere is at 217 and third-place Appoquinimink carded a 218 in the first round of the state tourney, played at Maple Dale Country Club.

Fourth-place Tower Hill (221) is also still very much in contention at the 36-hole event, which is slated to finish today at Maple Dale.

Indvidually, defending champion Phoebe Brinker is still the player to beat after carding a 71 on Tuesday to hold a four-shot lead. Still just a freshman, Brinker competes for Archmere this season after attending Tower Hill last year.

Four players are tied for second with 75s, including Milford’s Kyle Strassle and CR’s Akira Pavey.

“Coming in, we thought there were five or six teams that had a legitimate chance and we thought that we were one of them,” said Riders’ coach John Newman. “Hopefully the kids are looking forward to tomorrow.”

CR’s two best first-round scores came from two of its youngest players. Pavey is a sophomore while teammate Matthew Miller, who fired a 76, is just a freshman.

Of the 95 players in the field, only 17 scored in the 70s on the cool, overcast day. The wet course and occasionally-windy conditions made scoring difficult.

All things considered, Pavey was happy with his 75. He’s not usually one of the Riders’ low scorers.

Pavey had four birdies in his three-over par round.

“I haven’t really played too well in our nine-hole matches,” he said. “It was a little surprising.”

Pavey said he just wishes he hadn’t finished the front nine with a bogey on No. 8 followed by a double-bogey on No. 9.

“I know I have it,” he said. “But it’s all about putting it together and not making dumb decisions. I’m just trying to play my game.”

“He (Pavey) is a tremendously hard worker,” said Newman. “I’ve seen him play very well so his score doesn’t surprise me.”

Strassle’s 75 comes after he won the Henlopen Conference individual title last week on the same course. The junior finished his round with birdies on the final two holes to earn his place in the four-way tie for second.

Of course, there’s a lot of golf still left to be played.

“There’s some good teams,” said Newman. “We were happy with our young kids today,” said Newman. “We had a freshman and a sophomore that helped us out tremendously. We try to preach ‘team’ all the time. Throughout the season, I think any one of our top-five people are certainly capable of doing some very good things.

“Today it was the young guys. Tomorrow, who knows who it will be?”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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