Forest Park senior Brad Howard said that he was introduced to golf when he was about 11 years old but that he wasn't serious about the sport until he was a high school freshman. At that time, he set out to become the best golfer he could be, but it would take him until his sophomore year to make the varsity squad.
On Monday at Montclair Country Club, Howard's advancement continued when he shot a 4-over par 75 to capture the Cardinal District individual title and lead the Bruins to their second straight team championship, 308-324 over Woodbridge. Both schools will represent the district at the Northwestern Region championships, Wednesday at Lee's Hill golf course in Fredericksburg.
"All year long we've been working hard and preparing and Coach [Babette] Overman has been telling us we need to do well in the district to send a message to everyone," said Howard, who said he hopes to play golf in college. "I think everyone on our team has taken that message to heart."
Indeed, Howard's score was just one of several solid scores by the Bruins, who shot 31 strokes better than they did in winning last year's tournament title. Junior Tory Whibley's 76 was good for individual runner-up honors, and the four other Bruins shot 83 or below. Freshman Jerry Roma tied for third with a 77, and juniors Brady Williams and Evan Howarth each finished with an 80.
Chris Wills and Anthony Ferrara both shot 77 to lead the Vikings, but the Bruins' overall performance was so dominating that even if they counted their bottom four scores they would have still won by four strokes.
"I knew all along that they were capable of this kind of performance," Overman said, "it was just having them all do it on the same day. That was what we really, really wanted . . . They came with their game faces today."
Overman said that although she considers Montclair to be the Bruins' home course, she had her golfers playing on different courses in preparation for the district meet. She hoped that a change in routine might allow her golfers to become rejuvenated.
"I think the thing is that we played so consistently in this match because everyone felt confident and comfortable coming back home," Overman said. "I keep saying it has been like a light bulb going on for them, they see their weaknesses and they know where their strengths are. . . . They are playing competitively."
Gar-Field (392), led by sophomore Josh Sale's 78, and Hylton (397) rounded out the team scoring. Sale qualified to compete as an individual at the region tournament.