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Carson golf has sizeable lead

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Carson High's J.T. Cockerill at Carson Golf Invitational held at Silver Oak Golf Club on Wednesday.
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There is no place like home.

Carson High’s red-hot golf team, led by Matt Mitchell’s 1-over-par 72, shot a sizzling 379 on its home course, Silver Oak Golf Club, to take the first-day lead at the annual Carson High Invitational Wednesday afternoon.

The 36-hole event concludes today with an 8 a.m. shotgun start, and Carson is firmly in the driver’s seat.

The Senators posted four sub-80 scores. Besides Mitchell’s 72, J.T. Cockerill shot 73, Scott Jenkins 74, Zack Rispin a season-best 75 and Spencer Brinson 85. Steve Hein finished with a non-scoring 86.

Carson has a whopping 21-stroke lead over Bellarmine (400). Spanish Springs (402) is third, Sonora (412) is fourth and Galena, led by medalist Dan Wittlinger’s 1-under 70, and Nevada Union are tied for fifth (413).

“I’m really impressed,” Carson coach Rod Butler said. “That’s a good score. We have an advantage over the California schools because they are not used to playing in altitude and it takes time to figure out yardage (what clubs to hit). I’m sure their scores will come down tomorrow (Thursday).

“As long as we shoot anything under 400, I don’t think anybody will pass us. None of these scores surprised me. It’s what the kids are capable of doing.”

Mitchell, whose 72 tied his best round, was happy with his performance. It included three birdies and no double-bogeys.

“I was hitting it good all the way around,” he said. “It probably could have been better.

“The last two weeks I’ve been struggling. I didn’t know where the ball was going. Coach and I worked on my swing, and it’s back to where it needs to be. I was having a lot of trouble off the tee with my tempo and I was taking it back too big like John Daly.”

Mitchell birdied the 364-yard 16th, using a driver and lob wedge which he got to within 5 feet of the flagstick. On. No. 17, a 338-yard par-4, he drained a 15-foot putt, and on No. 1, he hit a bum-and-run sand wedge to within 4 inches of the cup and tapped in.

“He (Mitchell) needs to do more of that so he remembers that he can do that,” Butler said. “He’s had a couple of 32s (for nine holes) in practice rounds out here.”

While Mitchell breezed, Cockerill had to finish eagle-birdie-par-birdie to register his 2-over-par 73.

It was one big struggle over the first seven holes for Cockerill, who got the day off to a bad start with a three-putt bogey at the 168-yard par-3. He followed with four straight pars before running into trouble on No. 12, a 144-yard par-3.

Cockerill put his tee shot pin high but off the green. It took him two chips to get on the green, and then he lipped out a bogey putt to finish with a double-bogey and move to 3-over-par.

“I tried to flop it and didn’t hit it hard enough,” Cockerill said.

Despite a horrible tee shot, Cockerill saved par on the 13th hole, sinking a nice 10-foot putt. He put one out of bounds on the par-5 15th and made bogey, and he went to 5-over par following another bogey at the short par-4 17th.

It took just one hole – the short par-5 529-yard 18th – to reverse Cockerill’s fortunes. He blasted a driver over 300 yards and then lofted a 7-iron to 20 feet and drained the putt to get back to 3-over. He birdied No. 1 and No. 3 to go 1-over and then bogeyed the par-5 5th to finish 2-over. He played the last 11 holes in 1-under.

“I settled down and started hitting really good shots,’ Cockerill said. “I believed I could do it. I started hitting good drives and making good putts.”

The 75 was Rispin’s best tournament score this season, and he showed flashes of what Butler can expect in the future. His round included birdies at No. 3 and No. 16 and a double-bogey on the par-5 15th.

“On the front nine, I was getting up and down,” Rispin said. “On the back nine, I was putting really well. I didn’t hit all the greens in regulation, but I would chip to 4 or 5 feet and I was making every putt.”

He gave up strokes at the par-4 11th which was playing only a little over 300 yards because of construction going on at Silver Oak. Rispin drove the green, but three-putted for a par.

“It was definitely a shot I had; a shot I lost,” Rispin said. “I definitely can’t get it back. A 74 looks a lot better than a 75.”

On the par-5 15th, Rispin puts his tee shot in the water, leading to his only double-bogey.

“I hit one bad shot,” he said. “I blocked it and hit it right. I was hitting my driver well. I’m going to have to shoot lower (than 75) to have a chance to win. It will be a little bit of an advantage to play in the morning because it won’t be so hot or windy.”

Notes: Only Wittlinger eclipsed par and two other players were at 1-over par. The 72 by South Tahoe’s Kevin Fannan was a career best. … Six golfers eclipsed 100 … The round by Carson’s team was a season best.