High School Sports

Prep golf | Lakewood Ranch team, Saint Stephen's player Jack Cen collect Manatee County championships

BRADENTON -- The Lakewood Ranch boys golf team collected its seventh consecutive title Wednesday at the Manatee County Championship.

But there was another, seemingly less impressive, streak that made the Mustangs feel good about their prospects.

Entering this final week of the regular season, the three-time defending state champions had placed third and seventh in their past two tournaments.

But after winning Monday's Donald Ross Memorial Invitational and another county trophy, Lakewood Ranch has a winning streak again.

"It's kinda different losing," said senior Spence Schultz, who shot a team-best 69 and finished third individually. "It's weird. We're getting back on track."

The Mustangs (50-10) shot a team score of 1-under-par 279 at River Run Golf Links to win the county crown by 15 strokes over second-place Saint Stephen's. Lakewood Ranch boasted the third through sixth top individual scores in Schultz, Charlie Sun (70), Barry McDonnell (71) and Mike Wijas (72).

The team scores were compiled by taking the top four individual scores for each nine then adding the totals.

Saint Stephen's senior Jack Cen collected the individual championship with a 3-under-par 67. After shooting a blistering 5-under-par 30 on the front nine, Cen held a comfortable lead on the field before double-bogeying the 18th hole.

He still held on for a one-shot victory over second-place Philip Knowles of Bradenton Christian.

"My swing isn't very consistent right now because I just had a lesson last weekend," Cen said. "So this is actually the third time I've been out on the course. I was very happy with the progress. I just hit a lot of good approach shots. I think I only had one birdie putt that was outside 10 feet."

Cen said the county title was his first major high school championship. He finished one shot back in the Ross standings Monday.

"I'm just coming close and finally got this," he said. "It's

an honor because it represents my school and it shows I'm ready for this kind of event in the future."

BCS finished third in the team standings with a 312. Braden River (316) was fourth, Manatee (337) was fifth, Palmetto (371) was sixth, and Southeast (429) was seventh.

The Mustangs played without one of their top players in Kelly Sun, who won the Ross individual title on Monday. But Wijas, a freshman who was playing in just his third varsity tournament, shot a 32 on the front nine and finished at 72.

"We played some new guys today," Lakewood Ranch head coach Dave Frantz said. "We let one of our guys have the day off. It was an interesting day. Most of my guys hadn't played the golf course before. ... Out here, if you haven't played before, you don't really know where your angles are. That's pretty much the key to the golf course."

The play of Wijas and sophomore Billy Herten, who shot even par Wednesday despite not counting for the Mustangs' team score, will make for some competition as the postseason begins Monday.

"Now I've got a hard decision because I've got a big event over at PGA National this weekend. I'm going to have a sleepless night, I think," Frantz said.