CARMEL — After the first round of the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals, Warsaw’s Tigers sit just outside the top 10 in the elite field. Only four strokes out, they’re knocking on the door, too.
Warsaw posted a 328 at Tuesday’s opening round at rolling Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, closing the day in 12th place, three strokes behind 11th-place Yorktown and just four behind Hamilton Southeastern. Penn shot 322 to finish day one in ninth place, and defending state champ Carmel posted an 11-over 299 and leads Center Grove by four strokes for the lead in the team standings at the big meet. The Tigers are scheduled to begin Wednesday’s second and final round at 9:03 a.m.
“We set a goal as a team Monday that we’d love to make top 10. We felt like that was a great goal for us first year and young, and we’re only four strokes out of 10th place, so we’re right there. I think we have a good day tomorrow, we have a really good shot at top 10,” said Warsaw coach Rich Haddad.
As they did in Saturday’s Plymouth Regional round, the Tigers were led by freshman Cal Hoskins and senior Chase Byron Tuesday.
Four bogeys and a birdie on the par 4 16th left Hoskins at 3-over at the turn, but the freshman number one trimmed a few strokes on the front side at Prairie View — including another birdie on the par 5 seventh — to finish the day at 4-over-76. If not for a few hiccups in his short game, Hoskins could’ve gone even lower, and he sits in a six-way tie for 21st with one round to go.
“It was similar to the regionals actually. He shot a 40 at regionals on the first nine and then turned around with a 1-under 35. So I just tried to remind him of that — that this is a fresh nine, you’re hitting it great so just be patient with yourself. And, again, he just kept making a lot of pars and got another birdie on the back. So turned in a nice back nine again,” explained Haddad.
“He probably felt he hit the ball way better than he scored, but tomorrow if he shows up and has a good putting day and keeps hitting it well, I think he can post a really good score.”
Byron carded a pair of birdies himself — like Hoskins, on the seventh as well as on the par 4 14th — to finish the day at 81. He was just 3 over at the turn but hit a snag with a double bogey on the par 5 number 3 before grinding out a respectable 9-over-par for the round.
“He had a really good front nine, got a bad break about three holes into the back, and I think that just kind of derailed him a little bit,” said Haddad. “He ended up making a double bogey there, and then a couple bogeys followed. And then he righted the ship again and finished 18 strong. So he turned in a score that I think he’s happy with, also optimistic that he can post a good score tomorrow, given how he hit it today. Very proud of him to just kind of stick with his game.”
Freshman Jack Yeager carded a 12-over 84, meanwhile, and sophomore Tucker Carlisle gave the team a 15-over 89 for the Tigers’ fourth score. Junior Zach LaLonde’s 92 was the team’s toss-out on day one.
With the first round under its belt, Warsaw stands in good stead to earn itself a top 10 finish in Haddad’s first team state berth at the helm of the program.
“I do think they’ll be a little more relaxed because it’s going to be a little more familiar, so I expect them to get off to a better start. I think they were very nervous on the first tee. They’re announcing the names, and it’s a big deal, it’s pretty exciting,” he said. “Tomorrow will be a little more familiar, and I think they’ll be a little more comfortable. And I think it’s a self-imposed goal with the top 10, and I’m hoping that’s not something that adds pressure but kind of is just more motivating than anything.”