Eagles soaring with freshman’s help
That’s the way the Leland High student is playing. On Friday and Saturday, Sneed led the Eagles to a second place finish in the Traverse City Tee-Off at the Grand Traverse Resort.
On Monday, Sneed also led St. Mary to an easy dual match win over Kingsley at the Leland Country Club.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” said Sneed, who led the entire field in St. Mary’s division on Friday with a 73. He followed it up with a 82 for two-day team best of 155. “And I’ve played enough tournaments over the years so I’m not nervous in them.”
On Monday, Sneed shot even par. He did it with nine consecutive pars on what he calls his home course. It was the fourth time this season Sneed was medalist for St. Mary.
“But when you go to a team event, everybody is out there supporting each other.”
“Joel continues to show that despite being a freshman, he can handle the pressure of competitive high school golf,” St. Mary assistant coach Tim Schaub said.
St. Mary is off to a good start, winning four of its six outings. The Eagles, now ranked No. 2 in Division 4, also have two seconds, including the April 25 Traverse City West Invite.
Monday’s 153-186 win over Kingsley included Nick Shaffran’s two-over par 38. Junior Ian Duvall had a 39, senior Joe Pendergast shot a 40.
“Today I felt good, I put everything together.”
Shaffran, who matched his season best with a 38, had six straight pars before a bogey on No. 8 and a doublebogey on No. 9. He birdied his last hole, which was No. 1 because of a shotgun start.
“It was a good way to end it,” Shaffran said. “There weren’t a lot of birdies.
“I thought we had chances, but nobody could make a birdie putt. The greens were just a slower.”
“I hit seven greens and missed two,” Sneed said. “I was putting for birdies on every one but didn’t get one.
“The greens were bumpy.”
St. Mary lost to Division 2 Cranbrook Kingswood in the TC Tee- Off, but beat out 16 other teams in the Division 2-4. The Eagles shot a combined score of 649. Cranbrook Kingswood had a 635.
In addition to Sneed’s 155, Bardenhagen had a 160, followed by Duvall 164, Pendergast 170.
“I thought the guys played pretty well,” St. Mary coach Jim Varley said. “It was a good learning experience.”
The Eagles were in contention for the title on Friday, but the entire team struggled on Saturday.
“They didn’t play nearly as well as they would have liked,” Varley said. “You always want to play better on the second day and we played much worse.”
“On Day 1, I hit the ball well,” Sneed admitted. “But on Day 2, it was playing more difficult.
“I didn’t play well, but no one did. I could have saved a few strokes, but I messed up a couple of shots.”
Varley is pleased with his club’s performance so far.
“The biggest surprise is how so many different player have played well. We’ve had four different people be medalist,” Varley said. “It’s a nice luxury.”
“I think it’s good to have different leaders,” Sneed said. “It makes everyone better.
“We get pumped up to see who is going to succeed each time out.”
TC West won its own 10-team tournament with a 292. St. Mary was 16 strokes back in the event held at Mistwood Golf Course in Lake Ann. TC Central was third at 310, followed by Gaylord at 311.
Sneed shot a 74 and Joe Pendergast was a stroke back. Both golfers were among the top 10.
Shaffran carded a 79. Bardenhagen had 80.
“We were eager to see how we’d stacked up against some larger schools,” Schaub said. “I’d say we held our own pretty well in this one.
“All the boys played great.”
As far as the team’s early success, Shaffran is looking for more.
“We have a good outlook and doing well,” he said. “We just need to get a little more consistent.”
The Eagles return to action Friday in the Lake City Invitational.