SOUTHERN PINES – Defending team champion Newton-Conover holds an eight-stroke advantage over the field in tight standings after Monday’s first day of the 29th annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 2-A men’s golf championships at the Longleaf Golf and Country Club.
The Red Devils recorded a 304, good for an eight-shot lead over Shelby, with perennial power Salisbury in third at 315, 11 shots back. Salisbury won the team championship in both 2011 and 2012. Clinton is in fourth at 317, with only 33 shots separating the top spot and the 12th team at the bottom of the standings.
The course is set at par 71 and 6,591 yards for the NCHSAA championship.
Salisbury’s Eric Edwards fired a two-under 69 to grab the top spot in the individual standings, one shot ahead of Newton-Conover’s Trey Burton and Shelby’s Elliott Grayson.
Three players are knotted at even par 71, two shots off the pace, including Stephen Abrams of Wilson Beddingfield, Will Ballard of Polk County and Cole Jefferys of SouthWest Edgecombed.
Prior to 1986, all NCHSAA schools competed for a single title in an open tournament. Play went to three classifications in 1986 and then to four classes beginning with the 1998 tournaments.
A total of 84 golfers began play in the two-day tournament. Action will resume at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning.