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Learning Curve: G-C golfer Adam Casto competes at State Finals

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FRANKLIN — Adam Casto’s first round at the boys golf State Finals featured some good (one birdie, seven pars), some bad (five bogeys) and a little ugly (three double-bogeys, two triple-bogeys).

Fortunately for the Greenfield-Central junior, he gets a chance to redeem himself today.

Casto, the first Hancock County golfer to qualify for the state meet since New Palestine’s Steve Nichols in 2006, fired a 16-over-par 88 in his first round at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin Tuesday morning.

Casto tees off from the 10th hole today at 8:27 a.m. for his second go-around.

Following his opening round Tuesday, Casto said he noticed a glitch in his swing that should aid his quest for a better score today.

“I found something toward the end of the day. I’ve got to keep my hips out in front of me,” said Casto, who started on the back nine and shot a 46 before collecting a 42 on the front nine. “I was just arm-swinging all day. I was flying it out to the right, but I fixed it.”

Floyd Central senior Devin Jenkins, Valparaiso senior Kyle Meihofer and Zionsville junior Adam Wood logged 4-under 68s to share the lead after Day 1. Michael Makris, a junior from Mishawaka Marian, was alone in fourth at -3. Five golfers were at two-under-par.

Columbus North (two-over-par 290), Westfield (291) and Floyd Central (292) registered the top three team scores.

Prior to this season, cuts were made after Day 1 of the State Finals. The top nine individuals — excluding those who advanced with a team — and any golfer within four strokes of the lead moved on to Day 2. Now, every player who proceeds past the regional round is assured of 36 holes at The Legends — a sprawling suburban course tucked in the center of Johnson County.

Casto carded a career-best 75 Friday at the Muncie Central Regional to move on to state, and teed off from the 10th tee on the Road 9 course Tuesday.

He tallied a par-bogey-par-bogey-bogey start before before playing the par-5 15th. There, Casto struggled from start to finish and wound up with a triple bogey.

Casto used well-placed approach shot that landed a few feet within the hole to par No. 16, but stumbled upon a bout of misfortune on the 17th when his third shot landed a few club lengths out of bounds.

“He got sort of a bad break on a few of the out-of-bounds balls. Those add up quickly,” G-C coach Russ Wiley said. “(But) that’s the way it goes.”

The soon-to-be Cougar senior played his best golf of the day immediately after the turn.

Playing from the fringe on the par-4 first, Casto stuck his attempt with within a foot of the cup and tapped in for his fourth par.

On the 541-yard second, Casto struck two consecutive solid shots on the massive par-5 to put himself in ideal position. He then lofted his third attempt gracefully on the dance floor, leaving himself a makeable putt for birdie.

Consistent with his short game all day, Casto sent the ball calmly into its home.

“It was about eight feet downhill, right to left,” he explained. “I just made it.”

Casto assembled three straight solid strokes for a par on No. 3, but erased his skillful start to the front nine by double-bogeying a pair of par-4s on No. 4 and No. 5.

He wound up making par on two of his final four holes, but lipped out a birdie putt on the par-5 sixth. Casto’s lone three-putts of the day took place on two of his final three holes (No. 7 and No. 9).

Landon Smith of Evansville North and Adam Krebs of Evansville North were Casto’s playing partners Tuesday. Smith, a senior, had a pair of birdies and 11 pars en route to a 3-over-par 75. Krebs, a sophomore, finished two shots ahead of Casto with an 86.

State qualifiers are limited to one practice round at The Legends, and Casto took his turn Saturday. He said he played well, and agreed that he’s playing his best golf of the season right now.

“Yeah, definitely,” he offered. “It’s coming around. We’ll see.”

Casto, finished Round 1 in 99th place out of the 100 state finals golfers. He’ll be grouped today with Noblesville senior Stuart Alvey (81st), Terre Haute North senior Ryan Baker (94th) and Triton freshman Gregory Music (100th).

Wiley said all Casto needs to do is “keep the ball in play” and his score should improve.

As a unit, Greenfield-Central advanced to the regional round for the first time since 2008 in spite of murky one-through-five hierarchy. Freshman Clayton Long’s 78 paced the squad at sectional, while Casto (nine-hole 40) and fellow junior Jake Kauth (42) were the team front-runners at the Hancock County Meet.

With Casto, Long and Kauth, along with junior Connor Pence and freshman Trevor Humphreys, the Cougars’ core returns in 2014.

Casto, who plans to practice as much as he can in the offseason while also kicking for the football team, was hopeful that if should make it back to the State Finals as a senior, he could have some playing company.

“Maybe we can get more than just one person to state,” he said.

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