Cedar Park still in state 5A golf hunt despite lack of birdie putts

When Cedar Park’s H.S. Chang sank a birdie putt on the final hole Monday at Georgetown’s White Wing Golf Club, Timberwolves coach Cary Williams could only shake his head and chuckle.

Such putts in the first round of the Class 5A boys state golf tournament rarely fell for Cedar Park, which ended the first round with a team score of 301, 15 strokes behind first-place Highland Park.

“We had a ton of birdie opportunities, and we had that one player finally make a putt on the last hole,” Williams said. “And it wasn’t because there weren’t opportunities. I mean, holy cow.”

RELATED: PHOTOS: UIL Boys 5A and 6A State Golf Tournament

According to Cedar Park senior Ben Dunne, if a player doesn’t land his ball on the right spot on the undulating, unforgiving greens at White Wing, a potential birdie can quickly turn into a bogey.

“It’s all about placement out here,” Dunne said. “Even if you’re not as close to the hole, you have to be on the right side of the hills. That hurt us today.”

The errant putting proved particularly costly on the four par-3s on the course. The Cedar Park quintet of Chang, Dunne, Carson Vickers, P.J Schmitz and Kole Krieg combined for 10 bogeys, seven double-bogeys, one triple-bogey and just two pars — both from Dunne — on those par-3s.

But to their credit, the Timberwolves battled through their putting woes and still finished in third place. That bodes well for Tuesday’s final round, said their coach.

“We usually play better on the second day, so we won’t be discouraged by today,” Williams said. “We’ll go home, sleep in our own beds, get a good night’s sleep and be ready to play a little bit better golf (Tuesday).”

Dunne, a senior who has played three seasons for the Timberwolves’ varsity team, finished the first round with an even-par 72. Chang and Schmitz each shot a 3-over 75, Krieg fired a 7-over 79 and Carson Vickers had an 8-over 80.

If the Timberwolves can crack 300 on Tuesday, Dunne said, they can at least close in on a second consecutive second-place finish behind Highland Park, which finished the first round with a 10-stroke lead on second-place Frisco Centennial.

“I told the guys to just go out and play your game,” he said. “We’re good enough to come out tomorrow and get ourselves back into it.”

Cedar Park had plenty of local company at the state tournament. Three other Central Texas teams — Georgetown, Austin High and Dripping Springs — joined the Timberwolves at White Wing, giving the Austin area its largest contingent of qualifying teams in the 12-team tournament.

Powered by Phil Price, Georgetown placed itself in medal contention with a sixth-place score of 311. Price, a senior, fired a 1-over 73 and had four birdies. He also narrowly missed a 5-foot eagle putt on the par-5 12th hole.

The Eagles are making just their third appearance at the state tournament in school history, and Price admitted to feeling some pressure on the first tee box.

“I blasted it right into the hazard on the first hole,” Price said. “There were definitely some nerves.”

But Price battled back for a par on the hole, setting up his strong round.

“This course plays easy if you just stay on the fairway,” he said. “I felt great today, and I think we can come out tomorrow and do some good things.”

Dripping Springs finished seventh with a score of 314, and Austin High placed 11th with a 324.

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