Leesville Road wins Neuse-Clayton High Invitational

cbest@newsobserver.comMarch 11, 2013 

— Leesville Road is getting used to this Friday invitational tournament thing. The Pride won its second straight major invitational prep boys’ golf event on a windy, cold day, finishing at 7 over par in the Neuse-Clayton High Invitational at The Neuse Golf Club.

The win, by two strokes over Southern Pines Pinecrest, came a week after Leesville Road led the way in the Keith Hills High School Kickoff Classic.

Four Pride golfers posted scores in the 70s over the 6,604-yard, par-72 layout on Friday. Zach Seabolt, who finished in a three-way tie for second, paced Leesville Road with a 2-under, 70.

Gastonia Forestview’s Will Blalock and Alex Smalley of Wake Forest-Rolesville also carded 70s.

Will Franzen added a 1-under round for Leesville Road, and Carter Jenkins, who was the individual medalist at Keith Hills, finished at 75. Jake Hutchinson finished at 79.

“I just wanted the guys to play their game and not get caught up with the cold and the wind,” said Leesville Road coach Andrew Wilkinson. “I felt like we struck the ball well as a team. Here you just want to keep it in play, chip it up and make a putt if you miss a green. You have to keep the ball in front of you to be successful.”

Seabolt struck a championship blow for the Pride on his last hole, the par-5, 511-yard fourth, drilling a 12-foot eagle putt to finish at 70.

Individual medalist Josh Martin of Southern Pines Pinecrest finished at 5-under with five birdies and 13 pars. He made a 25-footer for a three on the par-4 first hole to start his round. He was most proud of the lack of those boxes that players draw on their scorecards to indicatebogeys.

“The no bogeys, that’s what I liked most,” Martin said. “That’s a big bonus, not having any setbacks. I just kept the ball in play and didn’t have any drama until the last hole.”

The field featured the defending 4A and 3A state team champions and eight of the 12 teams that qualified for last year’s 4A state tournament.

Pinecrest, the 4A state runner-up a season ago, was second in the team standings at 297. Cornelius Hough (fifth at 4A states last year) finished third at 298. Josh Stockwell added an even-par round for Pinecrest.

Defending 3A state champion Forestview was fourth at 301, three shots ahead of Broughton’s “Purple” team. Broughton, the defending 4A state champion, fielded two teams in the event.

Tri-Nine 4A members Green Hope (316) and Athens Drive (317) were almost neck and neck for sixth and seventh, followed by Millbrook (323), Durham Riverside (334) and Broughton’s “gold” team (336).

Court Settle led Broughton with a 72, while Steven Saleeby added a 73 for the Caps, and James Mishoe shot 73 for Green Hope.

Leesville Road will try to make it three invitational wins in a row March 15-16 when it plays in the North State High School Championship at Carolina Trace in Sanford.

“We saw the kinds of teams we’re going to have to beat at the state tournament here this week and last week,” Wilkinson said of the Pride’s run. “These past two tournaments have been a big confidence booster. We still know we can play better, but it’s been a great two weeks.”

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