Prep golf | Season Lakewood Ranch team primed for three-peat

Seasoned vets, solid young players give Mustangs all they need

jdill@bradenton.comOctober 10, 2013 

MANATEE -- Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team got off to a fast start this fall and hasn't looked back.

The Mustangs' most recent accomplishment was capturing a third consecutive Donald Ross Memorial Invitational championship at Sara Bay Country Club on Monday. It ran their record to a robust 98-5.

But it's a different three straight that has Ranch's attention this golf season. The Mustangs have a chance to become the first public school in Florida high school history to win three state golf championships in a row.

Two seasons ago, Lakewood Ranch put itself on the golf map with an unbeaten 103-0 run to the program's first team golf title.

Last fall, the Mustangs polished off another state title.

The common links are seniors Ramsey Touchberry and Danny Walker, who are averaging 71.6 strokes this season. Walker will be trying for his fourth state championship. As a freshman, he won the Class 2A individual championship by two strokes, leading the Mustangs to second place as a team.

And off last year's squad, junior Luke Miller, has joined the veterans for some intense competition as they've jockeyed for the top spots on the team.

"Up until (the Ross), I was 10-under for the season, Danny was 5-under for the season and Luke was just a few strokes back," Touchberry said. "So us three, we've been really playing well. Besides a tournament for each of us -- each of us have had one or two bad ones -- for the most part we've been playing well and leading."

Touchberry is committed to the University of Florida, while Walker committed to the University of Virginia.

The seniors see each other regularly at Missing Link Golf Academy in East Manatee, where they get their instruction.

That friendly rivalry and Miller's emergence (72.5 average) have given Ranch a strong top three and healthy competition.

Not to be outdone by the top three, Kelly Sun (73.88 average) gained considerable attention Monday when he set a Ross tournament record with a 65.

And it was done as Ranch's No. 4 player.

"Kelly only played once or two or three times," Frantz said of his No. 4 player's freshman season. "We kind of knew that was going to happen. That was the plan all along."

Sophomore Charlie Sun, freshman Louie DelFabro and transfer Ben Parisi have each held the No. 5 spot.

Right now, DelFabro is in that spot. Whoever gains that foothold this week heading into district competition next week will be the fifth man for the Mustangs as they march toward a another state tournament.

"We have a pretty consistent top six or seven that we're normally playing with, so we're able to really get to know those guys and push them," Touchberry said.

The influx of new players, mixed with the returners, has prepared Ranch for a deep postseason run, and it has happened this fall without two players from last year's state title team: Barry McDonnell and Spencer Schultz. Both are playing individual junior tournaments instead.

There's a month until the state championship at Mission Inn in Howey-in-the-Hills. It's a venue familiar to Touchberry and Walker. It was the site of their triumph in 2011 that completed the Mustangs' unblemished campaign.

"It's tougher, but it's in nicer shape," Touchberry said of Mission Inn. "If it's not windy, it shouldn't be too tough. But if it's windy, that course is really tough."

Should they navigate the postseason once more and complete the mission of a state championship at Mission Inn, then the Mustangs will etch their names into the FHSAA record books.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service