However, the Cleveland High junior punched the ball out to just in front of the green and then chipped up close to the hole and drained his putt for a birdie on the par-5 hole and his momentum took a big swing.
“He did the smart thing. He punched out of the woods like that and for him to be able to get up and down for a birdie was great,” praised Blue Raider golf coach Nick Cantrell. “He had a great round today.”
Cantrell captured low medalist honors with a 1-under 35 on the CCC front nine to lead Cleveland to its fourth straight win of the young TSSAA season. The Raiders claimed an easy 162-179 victory over District 5-AAA for Ooltewah.
“This (4-0) start is one of the best we’ve had in the five years I’ve been here,” declared Cantrell. “We are playing well and getting some consistent scores from our top guys.”
The Raiders will take the weekend off before jumping into a very busy week with a tournament and three district matches in a four-day stretch.
Cleveland will travel to Lake Tansi on Monday to participate in the 18-hole Cumberland County Invitational, before hosting county rivals Walker Valley and Bradley Central Tuesday at CCC. On Wednesday the Raiders will travel to Springbrook Country Club in Niota for a make-up match with McMinn County before facing Ooltewah at the Champions Club Thursday.
Bryant’s 35 was his best half-round of the season and actually could have been better except for a couple of near misses. On the fourth hole, Bryant pitched from in front of the pond to the right side of the green, giving him a birdie putt from just on the fringe. He curved the hard breaking putt out wide right and it circled back just in front of the hole and ended up just a few inches to the left for a tap-in.
“He was actually 2-under going into his final hole but his putt hit a ball marker and stopped less than an inch from the hole,” Cantrell related. “For him to get a birdie after that tee shot on No. 1, really got his momentum going and he played great the rest of the way.”
The Cleveland coach also praised the effort of junior Conner Caprara, who was just a stroke back of Bryant at even par with a 36. “Conner has been very consistent this season,” Cantrell remarked. “We know we’re going to get a good score from him day in and day out.
Senior Carson Griffin and freshman Tucker Jones rounded out the Raider scoring with a 42 and 48 respectively.
Ooltewah only had one female golfer present; however, so a girls match could take place in individual play, Cleveland sophomore Heidi Barringer faced off against her, edging the Lady Owl by three strokes after posting a 42.