The Daviess County golf team, along with Owensboro Catholic’s Jakob Wellman, advanced to the final day of the state tournament thanks to impressive rounds on day one.
The Panthers collectively shot a 318 to finish the day in eighth place and were led by an even-par round from Daniel Love — good for T-6th individually. The Aces missed the cut with a 340 team score, but Wellman’s 74 put him in a tie for 17th and allowed him to move on to day two.
DCHS head coach Lars King said he knew his team had the potential to do well all season, and said they can place even higher today.
“They met the expectations we have, and even exceeded them a little bit,” he said. “I told them if we break 320, we should have a really good chance.”
The Panthers collectively shot 1-under-par on the final three holes, overcoming a +17 on the front nine holes. DCHS was also helped by their No. 5 Braden Whistle, who shot an 84.
“We started out a little rocky,” King said. “We were able to count our fifth guy’s score, which we haven’t been able to do all year.”
Love had two birdies on the day, including one on the 17th hole. King said Love had those looks all day but couldn’t get more to fall.
“He had a whole bunch of 5- to 15-foot looks for birdie,” King said. “He finally had one that rolled in. The greens were really firm out there and it’s hard to adjust out there.”
King said the team doesn’t need to make any adjustments for their final round. If they can just repeat today’s success, they’ll be in good shape. The Panthers also got scores from Nick Johnson (81) and Jesse Holton (81).
“If we shoot the same score tomorrow, we’ll move up in the ranking,” King said. “If we can shoot 318 again, we’ll probably move to sixth or seventh. My goal at the beginning of the year was to make the cut again, which we did, and to finish inside the top 10. We’re right there to be on track for our year-long goal.”
Though they didn’t make the cut, Aces’ head coach Bretnea Turner said she was pleased with their round. Aside from Wellman, OCHS also got scores from Reece Higdon (87), Griffin Payne (88) and JT Payne (91).
“I was happy with how our team played today,” she said. ”I was happy that we finished tied for 18th. After checking the scores before the round, I realized we had the highest region finish of all the teams there. In my mind, we moved up six places today.”
Turner said the team has made great strides this season, and playing at state caps off a season full of experience and improvement for a youthful group.
“I look forward to what next year is going to bring for them after they all have experienced a trip to the state championship,” she said. “We have a few guys on the team that have experienced this before, but they experienced it with senior members of the team leading. This time, they led themselves.”
Wellman, their season-long leader, again proved to be a strong force for the Aces. He struggled before making the turn, but Wellman was able to settle down to finish one under on his second nine.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how Jakob finished today,” Turner said. “He had some frustrating holes on his first nine and he kept his composure throughout the round, understanding that there were still plenty of opportunities on the course ahead of him that he could use to his advantage.”
Turner said she’s excited that he has one more round to close out his freshman season. He knows there will be pressure to move up, but Turner said those situations don’t bother him.
“Jakob is a player that thrives on pressure and he loves to know that he is right in the mix in a competition,” Turner said. “For a freshman, he’s very mature when it comes to a round of golf, and I know that competing on the second day of the state championship was all he wanted out of the season. Although he won’t be there with his team tomorrow, his team will be there for him cheering him on, and we can’t wait to see how he does.”