AIKEN - South Aiken will have to come from behind if it plans to defend its Joe Wyatt Memorial Golf Tournament championship this year.
But that's not surprising to head coach Donnie Holland, who called this year's field the deepest and toughest he's seen in the six-year history of the tournament.
"I think it's tougher to win this tournament than it is to win the state championship," said Holland, whose team captured the Class AAAA state title a year ago.
"Everybody here has been hand-picked. You see state championship teams all around you. You don't get any tougher than this."
Twenty four of the top high school teams from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina finished first-round play on Friday at Houndslake Country Club.
Final action will resume today at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start.
Scott Brown posted the day's low round of 70, helping his North Augusta Yellow Jackets go into today's final round in second place, trailing Greenwood by 10 shots. Greenwood shot a 10-over-par 298.
Emmett Turner and Chris Piontek both shot rounds of 72 for Greenwood, which got four of its five team members under 80. South Aiken placed all five golfers under 80 a year ago in the first round before going on to claim victory.
On Friday, Holland settled for just two, as Kevin Kisner's round of 75 led the fourth place Thoroughbreds, who sit 17 shots off the pace.
Alex Hamilton came in at 79 for South Aiken, followed by Dane Burkhart (81), Patrick Cunning (80) and Justin Hendrix (83).
Holland realizes that the bottom half of his lineup will have to play better in order for a comeback.
"Obviously our strength has been Alex (Hamilton) and Kevin (Kisner)," he said. "Justin (Hendrix) has struggled a little this year coming off of basketball season. Dane (Burkhart) and Patrick (Cunning) have been steady, but if we can get them down lower, we should have a chance."
North Augusta will also be chasing Greenwood. While Brown posted the best round of the day, teammate Darby Sligh didn't finish far behind at 75 for the seventh best score of tied with Kisner.
Augusta Prep sits in a tie with Easley for sixth place at 317 behind the play of Sam Nicholson (77), Kenan Yount (77) and Zadoc Williams (78), who all finished in the top twenty out of 120 golfers.
Greenwood 298, North Augusta308, Waccamaw 310, South Aiken 315, Gaffney 316, Easley 317, Augusta Prep317, Providence Day 321, Travelers Rest 322, Vidalia 323, Spartanburg 323, Hardaway 323, Aiken324, Dutch Fork 325, Charlotte Day 326, Ridge View 326, Lakeside327, Irmo 330, Auburn 331, Riverside 331, Dorman 333, Socastee 337, J.L. Mann 338, Carolina Forest 349.
Scott Brown, North Augusta 70
Emmett Turner, Greenwood 72
Chris Piontek, Greenwood 72
Lorraine Ballerano, Socastee 72
Nick Hughey, Gaffney 73
Clark Truluck, Waccamaw 73
Darby Sligh, North Augusta 75
Kevin Kisner, South Aiken 75
Brian Duncan, Travelers Rest 75
Corey Holiday, Greenwood 75
Kellen Altman, Carolina Forest 76
Jerry Coleman, Hardaway 76
Brett Prichard, Lakeside 77
Kenan Yount, Augusta Prep 77
Sam Nicholson, Augusta Prep 77
Alan Burnett, Providence Day 77
Richard Cox, Waccamaw 77
Zadoc Williams, Augusta Prep 78