It was all West River atop the leader board in the Class AA and A boys' state golf tournaments Monday.
Ben Daane of Rapid City Stevens leads the field after the opening round of the Class AA championship at Hillcrest Country Club in Yankton, and Little Wound’s Lance Christensen is the first-round leader in the Class A event played at The Bluffs in Vermillion.
Daane used a hot start, birding three of the first five holes — a total of five birdies in the round to offset four bogeys — in carding a 1-under 71 to grab a one-stroke lead over Karsten Kern (Sioux Falls Roosevelt), and two better than Roosevelt’s Jack Lundin, Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Nash Stenberg and Raider teammate Adam Salter.
The impressive start by the two seniors propelled Rapid City Stevens into he second spot in the team race (308), six shots behind Roosevelt (302). Defending champion Sioux Falls Lincoln (309), Sioux Falls O’Gorman (312) and Yankton (313) round out the top five, setting up what should be real shootout for the team title in today’s final round.
“I was a little nervous on my first drive with out-of-bounds left, but I hit a good drive, and as I told coach afterward, that was kind of the key to my road in that I felt pretty good after that,” Daane said. “I birdied one, three and five, so that was nice to get off to a start like that. I putted really well today. I’ve been working on my routine, seeing the line and feeling it in my hands and putting a good stroke on it and I really felt confident today.”
Salter got into the medalist title chase late, turning what had been a so-so round into a one-over 73 by birding three of the last four holes.
“Early on my game was kind of off, and I was kind of worried, and I knew I had to do something to get myself back in and give myself a chance,” Salter said. “Fortunately, the driver got hot at the end and I was able to get in position to make some birdies, and I birdied 15, 16, and 18 to finish strong.”
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Other area athletes who turned in solid rounds on Monday included Sam Grout of Spearfish (75, tie for 7th), and matching 78’s and a share of 14th by Jonah Swartz of Stevens and Alex Duran of Rapid City Central.
In the Class A tournament in Vermillion, Christensen also rebounded from a shaky front nine with four birdies on the back to put himself into position to earn a championship trophy with a five-over 77 on Tuesday.
“It was a little rough on the front nine,” Christensen saidd. “I did pretty good in the front until the last four holes. I had some mental errors, but we got it figured out. And when I got to the back nine, a switch kind of turned on and I shot a 34 on the back. I’ve worked really hard and dreamt about this ever since I could walk, and so will be chasing the dream (Tuesday)."
Christensen will take a one shot lead over Carson Van Beek (Sioux Falls Christian) and Quinn Bormann (Parkston) into today’s final round.
Custer’s Austin Eggers fired a 84 (+12) and currently sits in a tie for 9th.
The 36-hole events conclude on Tuesday.