EAGLE LANDING - A steady round of golf by Fleming Island High's Colton Swartz and a dramatic finish by Oakleaf High's Nolan McCormick filled the drama between two teams destined to duke it out at the …
EAGLE LANDING - A steady round of golf by Fleming Island High's Colton Swartz and a dramatic finish by Oakleaf High's Nolan McCormick filled the drama between two teams destined to duke it out at the district championship tournament (October 14) as the two teams would stage a thrilling tie; 172-172 in dual meet action at Eagle Landing Golf Course.
In the end, it was Fleming Island High freshman Gavin Goldblatt's surge in the middle three holes that created the chase.
"It's like the field goal kicker that misses," said Oakleaf coach Sean Conroy. "One guy may shoulder some anxiety about a shot missed or a putt missed, but it comes down to the two teams both playing very hard in a very intense atmosphere."
Early in the season, Fleming Island took the Clay County Boys title behind Swartz hitting a two under par 70 at Fleming Island Golf Club as the Knights finished second, 308-347.
In that match, Oakleaf landed four of five golfers under 90 strokes while Fleming Island had three of five in the 80s and Swartz and teammate Andy Lonsdale in the 70; Lonsdale at 77.
"We lost a four stroke match to Fletcher last week or this would be a battle of two undefeateds," said Conroy, now 3-1-1 with Fleming Island at 3-0-1.
As the teams started off on the back nine holes at Eagle Landing, it was obvious that the scores were going to be close and that the final two or three holes; a par five 17 and a par four 18th hole, would create the dash to the finish.
In the opening three holes; on 10 (par 5), 11 (par 4) and 12 (par 4), Oakleaf's Nolan McCormick came out stroking with a birdie and two pars but Swartz answered with a three pars to take a one stroke lead; 13-14. Maples double bogied 10, parred 11 and birdied 12 to stay close.
Swartz' partner, Colton Zapp, was not fairing so well with two double bogies, a bogie and a par.
For the second pairing; Oakleaf's Jackson Hickey and Braden Hill and Fleming Island's Benny Opperman and Gavin Goldblatt, Hickey held serve with two pars and a bogie to be one stroke behind Swartz at 14.
With the meet progressing, Maples birdied 14, parred 15, but had a disastrous triple bogie on 16 to give Swartz an opening to pull away.
"I got caught in the trees," said Maples.
Swartz would not take the opportunity to put a gap on Maples with two bogies and a par on the next three keeping him with 13 strokes for the second three holes; 13-14-15. Zapp boosted his score with a par on 13 followed by fell back with two bogies to total 14 for the second three.
After six, Swartz still held the lead with 26 strokes with McCormack at 27, Maples at 28 and Zapp at 32.
In the second pairing, Hickey and Hill improved with both hitting 13 strokes for the second three holes with both hitting par at 13 and 14. Hickey's 27 for six holes put him back in the mix to challenge Swartz and McCormack for the lead.
Make things more interesting in the second six, Fleming Island's Benny Opperman and Gavin Goldblatt stomped out scores of 13 and 12, respectively, to close the gap to the leaders. Both Opperman and Goldblatt's scores for the second three holes; 13 and 12, pushed them to within three strokes of Swartz and just one of Maples.
In the final three holes; Swartz and McCormack powered home with pars on the final holes; par 3 (16), par 5 (17) and par 4 (18).
McCormack's finish (39) got inched out of the top spot by Swartz' 38 with Maples' falling to 42.
In the second pairing, it was Opperman coming back with pars on 16 and 18 and a bogie on the treacherous 17 that kept Fleming Island's team score in the mix. Goldblatt finished with a three bogies, but his earlier 12 score from 13,14,15 finished him at 44. Both Opperman and Goldblatt surpassed Zapp in the final scoring while McCormack outshot Maples for Oakleaf.
For Oakleaf, Hickey fell off the pace in the final three holes with a double bogie on 17.
Oakleaf 172; Maples 42, McCormick 39, Hickey 43, Hill 48, Justin Scholz 61
Fleming Island 172: Swartz 38, Zapp 48, Opperman 42, Goldblatt 44, Ryan Marrow 60
Keystone Heights girls beat Clay, Oakleaf
Keystone Heights High School's girls golf team continued their unbeaten slate with wins over Clay and Oakleaf in a tri-meet at Keystone Heights Golf Course. Keystone Heights finished with Savannah Heinz leading the Lady Indians with a first-time first place score of 42 with MJ Rivera scoring 48.
The Lady Indians won with 176 strokes with Clay second at 228 and Oakleaf third at 255.
Also scoring for Keystone Heights were Camille Jackson (43), Candace Jackson (45), Sloane Seibert (46 and Ashton Ludwig (48.
For Clay, Taylor Young was top scorer with a 43. Oakleaf was led by Aspen Windesheim's 58.
Keystone Heights is now 12-0.
Keystone Heights boys golf beats Clay 196-218; Tyler Thomas, for Keystone Heights, was top golfer with a 46 on the par 36 Magnolia Point Golf Course.
On Mon., Sept. 9, Keystone Heights girls beat Buchholz in a upset of sorts for the 1A Lady Indians against the 3A Bobcats. Top golfer was Buchholz' Amelia Williams, a 12th place finisher in the Class 3A championship tournament last year, with a 34 with Camille Jackson again leading the Lady Indians with a 38. Savannah Heinz' 40 and 44s from Candace Jackson and Sloan Seibert were the gamechangers as Buchholz' next three scores were 45, 47 and 48. Keystone Heights is now 15-0.