Thirty-four players remain in contention for the Suffolk boys golf championship, and 33 of them will be looking up at Southampton’s Christian Oakley on the leader board.
Oakley shot a 1-over 72 on Tuesday at Rock Hill in Manorville in the opening round. Players from Leagues V through VIII began play on Tuesday, after those from the other leagues teed off on Monday. The individual and team champions will be crowned on Thursday.
East Hampton’s Turner Foster is in second place after shooting a 76. Port Jefferson’s Shane DeVincenzo (77), Eastport-South Manor’s Bailey Meyer (79), and Mattituck’s Matt Sledjeski (79) had the day’s next best scores.
“I struck the ball real well,” said Oakley, who shot a 1-under 34 on the front nine and a 2-over 38 on the back nine. “I didn’t putt as well but my ball striking kept me going.”
Oakley entered the tournament as one of the favorites, after tying for third in the county last season and earning first-team All-Long Island honors. After playing up to that level Tuesday, Oakley said he would not get complacent.
“I want to go even lower next round,” he said. “It’s my senior year, so I really want to finish well.”
Oakley has a four-stroke lead on Foster and a five-stroke advantage on DeVincenzo, Huntington’s Tyler Gerbavsits and Sachem’s Steven Goodman (the latter two played on Monday).
“My goal was to make states, so I’m pretty happy with the position I’m in right now,” said Foster, who shot a 39 on the front nine and a 37 on the back. “I’m a little more confident after getting a good score in there today.”
Like Oakley, Foster said his ball striking was his biggest strength during the round and that a strong finish on the front nine gave him some momentum to fuel an even better score on the back.
“I started making some more putts on the front nine and that helped a lot going forward,” the sophomore said.
Eastport-South Manor has the top team score heading into Thursday, after Meyer, Kyle Tillinghast (80), Joey Busiello (83) and Ed Link (83) helped the Sharks post an aggregate score of 413. They lead Northport (424) and Smithtown East (426), which played on Monday. Port Jefferson and Westhampton both shot a 438 on Tuesday. Ward Melville, the two-time reigning Long Island champion, was at 440.