Casey Finger hooked his first shot of the high school golf season into the woods, forcing the Churchill senior to use an extra shot to get out of the trees and leading to a bogey. Finger, however, quickly recovered and displayed a game that he hopes will help him advance to the state tournament this season.

Finger made seven consecutive pars, then birdied the par-3 ninth hole to shoot an even-par 35 and tie teammate Matt Benz for the lowest round of the day in a nine-hole match among top Montgomery County teams at Bretton Woods Recreation Center in Germantown.

"It was a solid round, no big numbers," Finger said. "I didn't let the bad shot get to me. I took my medicine and kept going."

Getting on the course can be difficult at Churchill, the two-time defending Maryland 4A/3A champion. Finger competed in the state qualifying tournament as a sophomore, but shot 80 and did not advance. Last year, with three seniors on the team, Finger did not make the squad that advanced to the state tournament; while his teammates competed during the school day, he went to class.

In fact, at least one person thought Finger's best chance at athletic success might be on the football field. Finger, who is 6 feet 1 and weighs 215 pounds (down from 230), said he often has been approached in the weight room by Churchill football coach Jamie Collins about joining that team.

"He says, 'You can play golf the rest of your life, why don't you come play football?' " Finger said.

Finger, though, stayed with golf and said he has been playing especially well of late.

"I think [losing weight] has helped me hit it further," Finger said. "You'd think the bigger you are the farther you can hit it, but [being lighter] gives you more flexibility and the ability to hit good distance."

Walter Johnson's Dennis Kwon and Whitman's Quinton Saum finished one shot back at 36. Kwon's round featured an eagle on the par-5, 501-yard No. 8 when he chipped in from about 10 feet off the green. Churchill All-Met Ryan Wielgus shot 38 and Sherwood's Chas Golibart, last year's Maryland 4A/3A runner-up, shot 39.

Churchill had the lowest team score with 186 strokes, followed by Walter Johnson (189), Whitman (206) and Sherwood (220).

Setback for Girls' Soccer Team

The Churchill girls' soccer team will forfeit its first two games of the season, Athletic Director Mike Dichov said. Dichov would not elaborate on the reason for the forfeits, saying that team will not travel to Wilde Lake today for its season-opening game and will not host Whitman as scheduled Thursday.

Dichov referred all questions about the incident to principal Joan Benz. She did not return a phone call for comment last night. Fourth-year coach Haroot Hakopian also declined comment.

However, a source familiar with the situation -- who asked not to be identified because the school is still investigating the matter -- said players were being punished for an alcohol-related infraction.