LADY LAKE -- Considering all the national-level talent that populates the Class 1A golf pool, Ransom Everglades coach Julie Carse understands coming home from the state tournament with any hardware is a tough task.
Even so, Tuesday’s opening round at Harbor Hills Country Club left her wanting a little bit more.
The Raiders, paced by Carolina Garrett’s 6-over-par 78, stood eighth at day’s end — no threat to star-studded front-runners Circle Christian but just four points out of sixth.
“Our goal is top five, and we have a chance,” Carse said. “We have a chance to beat two other teams in our [proximity]. Maybe a third, but it’s going to be tough. … They played pretty steady, but our expectations were a little higher.”
Ransom combined for a team score of 325. The Benjamin School was just two points ahead, and Providence School of Jacksonville was at 321. To get into the top five, though, the Raiders would have to make up a 16-shot gap on Bradenton’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal.
“Sixteen is pretty big,” Carse said. “Players can maybe get three shots each to improve their scores for [Round 2], but that’s still not enough. We’d still be looking for more.”
Carrollton School, Miami-Dade’s other entry, was in 12th after the opening round. Eighth-grader Tanya Eathakotti led the way with an 80.
With Tuesday’s gusty winds compounding a hilly course not seen in South Florida, six teams had no player break 80. Two teams had no one break 90.
“I think 325 is a good team score,” Carse said, “especially playing out of town on this kind of course where there’s so much slope. I was looking at the 320 range for that first day, just because of how difficult it is. But we always want to play better.”
That was certainly the case with Garrett’s 78, a round that left her shaking her head after a day in which she couldn’t coax any mid-length putts to fall into the hole.
“She had so many birdie putts, but just couldn’t make on,” Carse said. “She was running them by the hole and leaving herself easy tap-ins for par. At districts and regionals she went 68-71, so she has the potential to do it.’’
Carse also was found encouragement from senior Alix Hamilton’s 81.
“That’s a great tournament score for her,” Carse said. “She’s not a long player, but her short game is what got her to this point.’’
Circle Christian set the pace with a team score of 288, moving not only to the brink of its first state title but also of ending Central Florida rival Windermere Prep’s run of three consecutive crowns. The Centurions posted three of the day’s top six scores, with Abbey Carlson shooting a 69 and Samantha Wagner a 70.