MARION — Brutal wind conditions made for a challenging first day at the Class 4A boys’ state golf championship at Hunters Ridge Golf Course on Friday.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy — led by junior Conner Koberg, who posted a 3-over par 75 — was in second place at 317, seven shots shy of Ankeny Centennial in the team race.
“When I finished, I didn’t think it was going to be as low. I didn’t think I was going to be in contention,” Koberg said. “But now, being in contention, it feels a lot better.”
On a day that saw very few birdies, Koberg managed two and scored no worse than a bogey on any hole, which he did five times. His effort placed him in a tie for fourth with defending champion Matthew Walker from Ottumwa.
Des Moines Roosevelt’s Aaron Wirt had the only below-par round with a 71. The Ankeny duo of Griffen Matthias (72) and Andrew Huseman (74) are second and third, respectively.
Junior Cole Murdock added a 78 for Kennedy.
Winds in excess of 20 miles per hour presented a unique challenge on the greens, where a shaking, oscillating ball resulted in some adventurous putts.
“It’s hard out there when the wind is affecting the putts,” said Cedar Rapids Washington co-coach Chris James, whose Warriors are in 11th place with a team score of 334. “It’s windy enough when the ball is moving on the green.”
A couple of underclassmen led the way for the other two Metro schools. Freshman Frank Lindwall led the Warriors with an 8-over round of 80, which included two birdies. Cedar Rapids Xavier sophomore Kellen Gray also
carded an 80, helping the Saints to ninth place with a team score of 332.
“When it’s windy, you just take a normal swing, try not to hit it too hard,” Gray said. “Hit it on the green and try to make putts.”
In order for Kennedy to make up the seven-stroke deficit today, the Cougars need a better round from junior Davis Sutton. Sutton, the top-ranked golfer in 4A, ended a frustrating day with a triple-bogey on the par-4 No. 18 for a score of 80.
“I made a few too many mistakes today,” Sutton said. “Maybe, over the shots, I just wasn’t in the right mindset. Maybe trying to push it a little bit too much, maybe sometimes trying to be a little bit too conservative. Just wasn’t my day today.”
The final round tees off today at 9:30 a.m. and winds are expected to be 10 to 13 miles per hour.