Lakewood Ranch boys golf team loses again, but building toward a bigger goal

After 117 straight wins, Ranch suffers 3rd loss in 4 days

jdill@bradenton.comSeptember 20, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Last fall, the Lakewood Ranch boys golf team ran off a 103-0 record en route to the Class 2A state title.

That unbeaten streak continued this year, reaching 117 straight victories until Sunday's third-place finish in the nine-team Olympia Titan Invitational at Hammock Beach's Ocean Course in Palm Coast.

Now the Mustangs have a new streak brewing -- a losing skid.

Lakewood Ranch fell for the second straight tournament Wednesday. The Mustangs finished second to Lithia Newsome in the four-team State Top Ten Invite they hosted at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club's Cypress Links course.

The Mustangs (21-3) fired a 2-under-par 286 total, but came up one shot shy of Newsome.

But there is no need to hit the panic button, the Mustangs say. This is part of Lakewood Ranch's strategy moving forward in a season built around 18-hole tournaments aimed at giving the Mustangs a battle-tested squad ready to repeat as 2A champs.

"When it's all said and done, we'll have about 11 tournaments of 18-hole matches," said

assistant coach Matt Gordon, who filled in for head coach Dave Frantz on Wednesday while Frantz served as tournament coordinator. "And (Newsome) is only going to have three. We did it last year, so come postseason 18 holes is nothing."

The 2012 Mustangs are a different group with Connor Baldwin, Kyle Benson and Hunter Sagar all departing after filling out last fall's flawless fivesome.

This season, Ramsey Touchberry and Danny Walker have moved into leadership roles as juniors.

"I think it's not quite not as much pressure," said Walker about the winning streak getting snapped. "Me personally, I didn't expected us to go undefeated this year. Not because we're not as good; I think we are as good. Just that last year, a lot of things had to go our way for that to happen."

Walker and Touchberry made their first appearance in a tournament together during Sunday's event in Flagler County.

Walker carded the lowest round among Lakewood Ranch players on Wednesday when he turned in a 70 that featured six birdies to offset two double bogeys.

Touchberry recorded a solid 1-under-par 71. Ben Boulch posted a 71, and newcomer Luke Miller, who arrived in the area from Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago, fired a 74.

The top four of six scores were counted in the overall total.

Last year, Ranch had a consistent core of six players. This season, there could be a different crop of players teeing it up based on the qualifying meets that pit teammates against each other.

Walker lost out in a shocker before an Ida Baker tourney in Cape Coral.

"We were all a little bit surprised, but we ended up OK there and we won," Touchberry said. "And then he joined us for the second tournament that we had to qualify for. ... I think it keeps us rolling. It's good to have a few breaks every now and then."

Newsome received a 69 from Tyler Bakich, a 70 from Colin Julian that featured a back-nine 32, a 72 from John Michael Coultas and a 74 from Brian Allen to nip the Mustangs by one stroke.

Also competing were St. Petersburg High (303 total) and Sarasota Riverview (306).

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