Columbus North plays its home golf matches at Harrison Lake Country Club, so Spencer Fairbanks hasn’t had many opportunities to play tournaments on his other home course, Otter Creek.
This week, Fairbanks is getting that chance, and on Tuesday, he took full advantage. The recent North graduate fired a 2-under-par 70 to put himself in a tie for fifth after the opening round of the American Junior Golf Association Otter Creek Junior Championship.
“I’m pretty happy about it,” Fairbanks said. “I was hitting it well and putting well, and things were falling. I was hitting it close so I could make those putts.”
Fairbanks started on No. 10 and went out in 34 before closing with a 36 on the back. He birdied his eighth through 11th holes to briefly claim a share of the lead at 4-under.
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Grant Engle of Springfield, Ohio, and Robbie Keyes of Louisville share the first-round lead at 4-under 68. Two others are at 69, and Fairbanks is in a three-way tie for fifth.
Meanwhile, the other three Columbus golfers in the field had strong starts, but slipped down the stretch Tuesday. Drew Smith, who will be a junior at North, also started on No. 10 and went 42-37.
Smith was 1-under on his second nine, but bogeyed the final two holes and is tied for 76th place at 79. He lipped out five putts in his round.
“The front nine, I really struggled,” Smith said. “I couldn’t putt. But other than that, I was hitting the ball pretty well, and I think I played a lot better than my score showed. I think if I do real well (today) and certainly putt better, I’ll make the cut.”
In the girls tourney, Danbi Kim carded an even-par 36 on the front (North course) and was only 1-over with four holes to play. But she bogeyed the last four holes to finish at 77.
Kim, who will be a senior at North and is playing in the tournament for the third year in a row, is tied for eighth at 77.
“I actually play the North course better than I do the West, so it’s not that surprising,” Kim said. “I really struggled on the last couple holes. I always play the West course pretty terribly, but I wish I could have done a lot better since I started off so great.”
Nathaly Munnicha, who will be a freshman at North, is one of the youngest players in the tournament. Like Kim, she struggled at the end, bogeying three of the final four holes.
Munnicha finished with a 38 on the front nine and a 41 on the back. She is tied for 17th at 79.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Munnicha said. “I played my driver pretty good. It’s just my iron shots and near the green I need to work on. It wasn’t the ending I wanted.”
The boys and girls fields will be cut roughly in half following today’s second rounds. The final round will be Thursday.
All four Columbus golfers played in the afternoon Tuesday and have morning tee times today.
Leaderboards for the AJGA Otter Creek Junior Championship:
Grant Engle;Springfield, Ohio;68
CJ Jones;Frankfort, Kentucky;69
Cole Bradley;West Lafayette;70
Charlie Toman;Chardon, Ohio;70
Jack Heath, Charlotte, North Carolina;71
Peter Tyler Po;Cebu, Phillippines;71
Tanner Grzegorczyk;Glenshaw, Pennsylvania;71
Grace Ni;Cypress, Texas;70
Lauren Beaudreau;Lamont, Illinois;72
Katie Hallinan;Loveland, Ohio;74
Catherine Caudill;Clarksville, Tennessee;75
Sarah Frazier;Fort Wayne;75
Alyssa Gromala;Mokena, Illinois;76
Five others tied at 77