WHISPERING PINES — Mount Airy came from behind on the second day of the NCHSAA 1A Golf Championships to claim the state title a year ago, but a repeat performance would require a massive bounce-back today.
It’s not that the Granite Bears performed poorly — in fact, they’re tied for fourth overall after the first day, and tied for first among traditional schools — but that Lincoln Charter shot the lights out.
The Eagles were one of the few teams who handled the 6,695-yard, par-72 Country Club of Whispering Pines course, which played exceptionally difficult on Monday morning and afternoon for most of the golfers competing. No one from any school broke par during the day, but two Lincoln golfers shot two-over 74, and two others shot 78 and 79. With four golfers all under 80 strokes on the day, LCS leads the field with a team score of 305, 12 strokes over Community School of Davidson, the team that Mount Airy overhauled on the second day last year to win the state championship.
In third place, another 11 strokes behind at an aggregate of 40-over 328, is Pine Lake Prep. Mount Airy, which finished third at the regionals, is tied with the team that won that regional, Alleghany, at 336. Both teams are 31 strokes out of the lead. East Surry, which finished second at the regional and was second to the Bears in the Northwest Conference regular season, is seventh overall with a team score of 351.
Mount Airy’s Reagan Fitzgibbons is still in the running for the individual title after shooting five-over-par 77 for the day. Fitzgibbons was on fire on the front nine, making back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes and making the turn at one-under par. At this point, he was the individual leader on the course. However, he carded a triple-bogey 7 at the par-4, 401-yard 10th hole, later made a bogey and a double bogey, and shot 42 on the back nine for a 77. Nick Smith of Union Academy leads the race for medalist honors after shooting a 73 on the first day. Fitzgibbons is one of two golfers tied for 11th, but at just four shots off the pace, remains in the hunt for the title.
The best individual performer from the Cardinals was Landon Barnes, who shot 80 on Monday. He is tied with the Bears’ Sam Nester and one other golfer for 19th place overall.
The other players on the course for Mount Airy were Nabyant Wagner, Zach Hall and Drew Tilley. Representing the Cardinals were Zeke Bruner, Will Felts, Parker Tilley and Jason Moore.