After last season's Northwestern Region Championships at Evergreen Country Club, Hylton's Dan Powe walked off the green at the last hole and told his coach he was glad the round was finally over. Powe shot a 96 that day.
Early this week, the sophomore returned to the same Evergreen Country Club course and fired a 77, the lowest score in a three-team match with Woodbridge and Stonewall Jackson.
"Last year he had no confidence," Hylton Coach Rick Pennline said. "Now he goes out there and keeps his head together."
That is exactly what Powe did Thursday in the rain-shortened Quantico High School Golf Invitational, shooting a 3-over-par 75 on the Medal of Honor Golf Course at the Quantico Marine Base, good enough to capture ninth place in the 168-player field. Fairfax's Matt Johnson won the overall title with a 1-over 73, and Centreville won the team title with a 302.
"This is one of my best scores; I'm thrilled to death," Powe said.
Last year Powe usually shot in the high 80s, but eight hours and 36 holes of practice a day this summer with Hylton teammates Chris Gentile and Matt Buttgereit have helped Powe become more consistent. Gentile and Buttgereit finished 11th and 13th, respectively, at Quanitco.
"The guys at Hylton stick together," Powe said.
"Chris and Matt are our co-captains. They were a huge help for me this summer."
Powe always had the ability to shoot low numbers; it was just a matter of doing it day after day. Last year he frequently would follow a good score with a poor one.
"That's the biggest difference in my game now; I'm more consistent," Powe said. "Last year I could shoot in the 70s, but then the next day I would go out and shoot 100."
On Thursday at Quantico, Powe showed the difference in his game. After thunderstorms forced the two-day tournament to be cut to an 18-hole event, Powe and the rest of the field had to start all over.
"I was playing better [Wednesday] before they called it off," Powe said.
But instead of turning around and shooting 100, Powe posted a ninth-place finish, which helped Hylton secure a second-place team finish.
"He's always been able to hit the ball," Pennline said. "But now before he steps on the golf course, he knows he's going to be in a dogfight and he prepares himself for it. He is really stepping it up."
6. Tom Lefebvre, Quantico, 74; 7. Billy Mellon, Brenstville, 75; 8. Jimmy Femino, Osbourn Park, 75; 9. Dan Powe, Hylton, 75; 11. Chris Gentile, Hylton, 75; 13. Matt Buttgereit, Hylton, 76; 19. Jonathan Sumner, Osbourn 77.
Hylton, 304; Osbourn, 326; Woodbridge, 331; Quantico, 334; Brooke Point, 338; Brentsville, 338; West Potomac, 342; North Stafford, 342; Stonewall Jackson, 366; Gar-Field, 367; Colonial Forge, 393.
CAPTION: Hylton co-captain Chris Gentile tees off on No. 17 at Evergreen Country Club on way to 3-over 75, 11th-place finish.