NORTH AUGUSTA — Colin Trahan didn't want to get too far ahead of himself, but there was no hiding his enthusiasm following his first round Monday at the Class AA golf state championship.
Playing on Fox Creek's home course, the Predators' senior posted an even-par 72 that has him two shots out of the lead heading into Tuesday's final round.
"I don't want to say anything too fast. I hope I win it. Senior year. I'm loving it," he said. "The weather's good, the course is good, the competition is fantastic again this year. ... Hopefully I have a chance. That's all I want to say."
Trahan went out at 9 a.m. in the first group of the day and put up a score that stayed in the lead until the mid-afternoon. Oceanside Collegiate's Rye Tifft took over the top spot with a 70 that was the only under-par round on a breezy day at Mount Vintage Golf Club.
There were still plenty of birdie chances – so many he couldn't remember an exact number – but Trahan felt like he left a few shots out on the course. His best birdie of the day came on his 10th hole, No. 1 on the Vintage side, when his lengthy putt caught the front edge of the cup and snuck in to the jar.
The Predators are in third place as a team with a total of 324. That's four behind Southside Christian for second place. Like always, everyone's chasing Christ Church – the Cavaliers posted a 304 total and have the lead as they attempt to reel in their seventh consecutive state championship.
Evan Prickett posted 80 for Fox Creek, Bryce Bessey shot 82 and Darien Dorn turned in a 90. Grant Riley had a 93.
"We're in it, and that's all that you could ask for after day one," said Fox Creek coach Mark Thomas. "We did miss some opportunities – a door would open to kind of crawl in to put a little pressure on Christ Church and Southside Christian, and we wouldn't take advantage of it at times. But at the end of the day, we didn't take ourselves out of it."
Ninety Six is fourth in the team race at 335, and Oceanside Collegiate rounds out the top five at 337.
Tifft started the day 4 under through 12 holes before giving back a couple of strokes down the stretch. Trahan is right behind him and riding a big wave of momentum from his third straight region championship and a third-place finish at the Southern Cross at Palmetto Golf Club. Christ Church's Walker Jennings and Southside Christian's Tillman Alverson are tied for third at 74, and Christ Church's Rafe Reynolds is fifth at 76.
Great weather is expected again for the final round, giving players and coaches plenty to be excited for after last year's state championship was rained out on the final day. This time around, the tournament will have a proper finish.
"It feels a whole lot better. Again, surprise, tomorrow I don't know what I'm gonna shoot tomorrow. Hopefully the same thing as today," Trahan said. "I played some good golf today. It feels amazing knowing that the weather is gonna stay like it is, especially after the bad day yesterday. It's gonna make it a whole lot more fun to play some golf, especially on my last year of the state championship – a whole lot more fun."