May 28, 2004
The Cape Henlopen High School golf team rang up another victory, this time at the Henlopen Conference Tournament at the beautiful Cripple Creek Country Club outside Ocean View held May 25.
The 18-hole competition awards the top team finish, but is primarily intended to qualify some of the conference’s top individual players for next week’s state tournament at Sussex Pines Country Club June 1-2.
Led by individual medalist John Purple’s 71, the team’s 318 total was a six-stroke win over their nearest rivals from Caesar Rodney High School.
Bradley Layfield is the athletic director of Sussex Central High School in Georgetown, and is the golf committee chairman for the Henlopen Conference. He explained that the top six teams from the conference automatically qualify for the limited-field state championship. In addition, the eight best individual finishers from the other teams in the Conference Tournament also qualify for the state championship.
As the Conference’s North Division and overall Champion, Cape was already in the state championship. The Conference Tournament gave the Vikings a chance to shine on an individual basis, as well as providing an opportunity for another team-based achievement.
As usual, six players from each squad participated. The golfers were sent out in threesomes that began early in the morning, organized in ascending order, with the last group starting play just before noon.
Cape’s sixth man, Kurt Stephens, began the day for his team and apparently succumbed to a bit of jitters, scoring an even 100. “I shot a 54-46. I had four pars, but that’s about it,” he said.
On the other hand, Andy Lee pleased himself and his teammates with an 84. His score included a 9 on the par-5 13th hole with a drive out-of-bounds. “I came back a little bit after that, though,” Lee said, finishing the round with three bogeys and two pars.
Sophomore Jason Hastings shot a fine 81. “I was even through five, but on the 6th hole my ball hit the cart path and bounced out-of-bounds. I ended up with a 7 there. I bogeyed out the front nine for a 42. On the back nine I bogeyed the first two holes and the 16th, but parred the rest [for a 39],” Hastings said.
Brian Davidson’s round was far more erratic than he wanted, scoring a 92. “I couldn’t stay concentrated. I missed a couple easy putts, and I had three irons go right and out-of-bounds. Those shots led to double or worse.”
John Purple was sent out as Cape’s second golfer, but as noted above finished first overall. “I was really consistent today. It was one of the best putting rounds I’ve ever had. I got up and down every time today,” Purple said.
Purple shot a one-under 35 on the front nine, and suffered his only bogey of the day on the 17th hole, when he three-putted. That offset a birdie on the 13th hole, leading to a par 36 for his back nine.
At that point, with Brett Hertel several groups back, Assistant Coach Dusty Shockley and Head Coach Corey Groll showed some clear signs of nervousness. They quickly toted up the top three scores of the remaining teams. They finally relaxed a bit when they figured out that Jay Whitby, Caesar Rodney’s final golfer, had to beat Hertel by 13 strokes for the Riders to win the team competition.
Hertel’s 82 compared to Whitby’s 76 brought out the grins on the two coaches and the rest of their squad.
Hertel wasn’t too pleased with his own score, but he readily joined the rest of his teammates in congratulating Purple.
The fact is, however, that once again the Vikings put together a winning team effort, just like they’ve done all season.
Two or three New Castle County schools are considered the top contenders for the state championship next week. Nonetheless, with the Cape golfers’ attitude and ability, they also have a real chance to finish high up in the final standings.