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High school golf: Hole in one, ball stuck in tree highlight first day of State Tournament

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Two rarities occurred on Tuesday at the State High School Golf Tournament, one which was more uncommon than the other.

Buffalo's Blaik Caplinger had a hole in one on the No. 11 hole.

"Drew (Patton) hit his shot and I sat on the tee, and thought, 'What if this goes in, I've been playing all right today.'

"Then, I just kind of pushed it out of my mind. I hit the shot, I hit it well ... right at it. It hit about 2 inches past and turned back in."

It was the first ace for Caplinger, a right-handed golfer but a left-handed pitcher in baseball. He used an 8-iron on the 198-yard hole while playing with Coleman Lamp of St. Marys, Philip Watson of Notre Dame and Gus Patterson of Greenbrier West.

"It was just one of those things, lucky," said Caplinger, who didn't begin playing golf until October, 2010. "When it first went it, it didn't register with me. Everybody started cheering, and about a second after that it kicked in, and everybody went crazy. Everybody was happy, I was happy."

Ritchie County junior Sydney Snodgrass had the more rare moment when her ball got stuck in a tree. She found it, and was able to identify it, so she was struck with a one-stroke penalty and didn't have to return to hit another ball.

"I thought it dropped," Snodgrass said. "It was still in the tree. I've seen it happen on TV and that, but I've never done that."

Snodgrass' 78 still was good enough to tie for the lead after the first day with Poca's Travis Covert.

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THE LEAD group in today's final round will begin on No. 1 and includes two Wheeling Park players (sophomore Cole Hand and junior Thadd Obecny) and two University players (junior Eric Wirth and sophomore Cale Wheeler).

University defeated the Patriots in the Region 1 championship and Wheeling Park is the two-time defending champion.

George Washington's Will Evans and Winfield's Chris Williams are in the second group to tee off on No. 1 with Cabell Midland's Jacob Beahrs and Oak Hill's Craig Buchanan.

Williams, who is two strokes behind leader Hand, is one of only two players in the top 10 to be playing unattached. Oak Hill's Craig Buchanan is the other. He is four strokes off the lead.

Winfield missed reaching the State Tournament by four strokes, but Williams said there is a plus to playing on his own, especially on the final day.

"It does help, actually, because you only have to worry about yourself," he said. "In the back of their minds, I'm sure they're worried about winning a State Tournament team title."

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UNIVERSITY COACH Bill Hines expects his team to play steady today, which could lead to the school's first golf championship. The Hawks finished as runners-up in 2006.

"My kids are just consistent players, they shoot these scores every time they go out," Hines said. "They've played tournaments all around the country. One kid won the junior amateur this year, played in the U.S. Am, Eric's won several tournaments. They play with that pressure before.

"I have all the confidence in the world that they'll continue to do that."

University's No. 1 is Trent McPherson, who attended John Adams Middle School before moving to Venetia, Pa. John Adams is George Washington's only feeder school.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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