Mother Nature played another trick on Southwest Wake Athletic Conference golfers in this young season, and this time it was a cold and cruel one.
For the third conference match of the year, the players were forced to traverse N.C. State University’s tough Lonnie Poole Golf Course on Thursday in a 46-degree temperature with biting and gusting wind. Coaches followed their players around the course with coats, and in some cases, ski caps.
“It was tough out there,” said Green Hope’s Kevin Wiles, who nevertheless shot a 1-over-par 37. “There was a lot of wind and it was hard to control the ball.”
A couple of weeks ago, the season-opening match was played on a 70-degree afternoon – rare for this unusually cold winter. The warm afternoon was followed by a match in cold weather but without Thursday’s gusting wind.
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“These were the toughest conditions we’ve played,” said Wiles, who posted a birdie and two bogeys. “The 15th and 18th holes played an extra two or three clubs. Then it was tough to make putts.”
Wiles led Green Hope’s winning team total of 157 as the Falcons maintained their conference lead. Teammate Matt Spak joined Wiles under 40 with a 39.
Green Hope won by a comfortable five strokes over Athens Drive’s 162 total. The Jaguars also had two sub-40 scores from Eric Bae, a top sophomore in the state who was the medalist with a 1-under 35, and senior Kevin Campbell, who shot 37.
“That’s impressive,” Wiles said of Bae’s score.
Bae left the course early, but Athens Drive coach Steve Ostroff said it was a typical steady round for him.
“He’s a competitor who has played a lot of tournament golf,” Ostroff said. “Good players knuckle down in tough conditions. It’s an advantage for them.”
Athens Drive has some talented players, including a 35 by Jeremy Keyes when he was the co-medalist with Green Hope’s Mike Siek last week at Lochmere. But Green Hope is holding off the Jaguars with its depth.
Panther Creek was third at 167, led by Miguel Palacios. Holly Springs was fourth at 169, led by Tim Conover.
Bae and Conover were grouped together when Conover posted his 38.
“We minded our business on the round – playing our own game,” said Conover, a senior. “He was very steady and made some good par saves. I felt I was steady, but I had a couple of bad shots. The wind was tough to play for a tough course like this one. I can’t believe it’s spring.”
Middle Creek shot 179, Fuquay-Varina 181, Cary 190 and Apex 194.