A whirlwind three-match week means the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference is almost done with the boys golf season three weeks before its end-of-year conference tournament.
Scheduling match days at eight different area courses isn’t easy, so this year’s SWAC schedule has a wide gap between the seventh match – which Green Hope won Thursday at The Preserve at Jordan Lake in Chatham County – and eighth, which is April 20 at Devil’s Ridge in Holly Springs.
Green Hope has a five-point lead on Panther Creek for the title and two full weeks of practice before its biggest matches of the year. The two teams scheduled a Ryder Cup-like match on Monday at Prestonwood.
“It’s a good rivalry. It brings the best out of both of us,” Green Hope coach Michael Robinson said.
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Green Hope had two of the three players who finished as co-medalists – freshman Jack Massei and junior Timmy Leonard. Both players, along with Athens Drive freshman Quinn Riley, shot a 2-over 38.
“The most important thing is just keeping it in the fairway here. It’s a tight course and it kind of plays to our strengths – keeping it in play and playing smart, making sure you hit the fairways,” Leonard said. “Any day we widen the lead (on Panther Creek) is a good day.”
The Falcons won two of the three matches last week, while Panther Creek took the other.
“It was hectic. It was tough to stay focused,” Massei said.
All six Falcons starters are averaging 40.8 strokes per match or fewer.
“The other day at Lonnie Poole, we played even par as a team. And Lonnie Poole is a difficult course,” Robinson said.
Athens Drive, which finished second in Thursday’s match, jumped Middle Creek for third place in the league as a result of Riley and others’ big day. Junior Devin Thorpe, in his first year playing competitive golf, shot a 39 which tied Green Hope’s Kevin Wiles for fourth.
It was only the second time all season where Green Hope and Panther Creek didn’t take the top two spots. The only other team to break up the west Cary dominance was Fuquay-Varina’s second-place finish on March 17.
“I think it’s great for the team. Coach is happy, I’m happy, the team’s happy – we get to eat Bojangles’,” Riley said.
Panther Creek sophomore Viraj Garawel leads the SWAC player of the year race with 38 strokes per nine holes. Garawel and Green Hope’s Brian Chen were both absent from Thursday’s match to compete in a national tournament in Georgia. Players can miss one match and still make all-conference.
Nine SWAC players are averaging less than 40 strokes per match: Garawel (38.0), Green Hope’s Rob McPartland (38.3), Leonard (38.6), Panther Creek’s Alex Scott (38.6), Massei (38.9), Middle Creek’s Carter Thompson (39.6) and Austin Bonfiglo (39.7) and Wiles (39.7).
1. Green Hope 54
2. Panther Creek 49
3. Athens Drive 37
4. Middle Creek 36
5. Fuquay-Varina 29
6. Apex 19.5
7. Holly Springs 19
8. Cary 8.5