It wasn't an ideal start.
Featuring several subpar days from its lineup, Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team finds itself in a deep hole following Tuesday's first round of the Florida High School Athletic Association's Class 3A state tournament at Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares.
The Mustangs fired a 306 team total to trail Lake Mary by 11 shots heading into Wednesday's final round. Ranch sits seventh in the standings.
"The course certainly wasn't playing difficult," Ranch head coach Dave Frantz said. "We just didn't play well at all."
Ranch would have to vault six other teams to claim a state-record fourth straight state championship.
The Mustangs already own the state record for public schools with three consecutive state titles.
"What you've got to do is you just go ahead and have four guys who are totally on their game," Frantz said. "And (Tuesday), we had four guys that were totally off their game. So in that regard, you need (Lake Mary) to probably shoot five shots worse. ... And then you need to go ahead and gain your 12 or 13 yourself and hope nobody else gains more than five. So it's kind of a numbers game."
Meanwhile in the Class 1A tournament at Mission Inn's El Campeon Course in Howey-in-the Hills, Saint Stephen's boys team is in fifth place after the opening day. The Falcons logged a 321 team total and trail first-round leaders Winter Park Circle Christian by 21 shots.
Bradenton Christian's Philip Knowles is tied for 14th after shooting a 76. Saint Stephen's senior Jack Cen and junior Justin Wynen also fired 76s to lead the Falcons.
Christopher Pollen (84), David Gao (85) and Ryan Kinkead (85) rounded out the Falcons lineup.
Frantz said his team prepared as well as it ever has before for the state tourney. However, that preparation didn't add up to a low score.
Only senior Spence Schultz came in with a round lower than his average. His 71 has him tied for fifth place in the individual standings. Lake Mary's Gabriel Lench leads the tournament with a 68, while Davenport Ridge Community's Sam Horsfield and Tampa Plant's Robby Eisch shot 69s.
Fellow senior Barry McDonnell had a 77 after a double-bogey late in his round, while senior Charlie Sun struggled to an 81.
Kelly Sun, a junior and member of the 2013 state champion team, also was a little higher than average when he posted a 77.
Freshman Mike Wijas' 81 rounded out Ranch's lineup, but only the top four of five scores counted toward the team total.
"This is his first big tournament," said Frantz of Wijas' play. "He's a freshman and he's only 14. So I'm kind of happy with the way he hit the ball. He just had a couple bad breaks and a couple bad shots; otherwise, he would have broken 80."