FRANCONIA >> The way Monday started for Souderton’s Stephen Butler, the freshman was not expecting to finish with his first-ever round under 40.
“Not quite just at first because, I mean, I was little nervous on the first tee because just first match. I hit a really, really not very good drive,” he said. “But I came back and bogeyed that hole. I only had three bogeys and I had one birdie on hole four.”
When he was through his nine holes at Indian Valley Country Club, Butler had shot a 2-over 36, putting him a three-way tie for the fourth best score on the day at the Pennridge Invitational.
“At tryouts I shot two 42s and two 40s so to come out here and shoot 38 feels pretty good,” Butler said.
James O’Malley added another 38 to Souderton’s total — carding a birdie on six to go with three bogeys — helping the Indians to a 199, which was only bested in the seven-team field by the 195 of Central Bucks South.
“It was good, I was actually putting today for the first time in a while,” O’Malley said. “Was hitting irons good, driver was only OK. Think if I could have got that going I could of shot a little bit lower but I’m happy with what I did.”
For the second consecutive year, Central Bucks East’s Patrick Sheehan had the low round at the Invitational, which counts as Pennridge’s six home Suburban One League Continental Conference matches — the Rams dropping all six. Sheehan shot a 2-under 34, eclipsing the even-par he collected at IVCC in 2016.
Central Bucks South’s Kevin Anthony was the only other golfer to finish under par Monday, taking second just behind Sheehan at 1-under 35.
“Setting myself up with the driver real well. I hit every fairway,” Anthony said. “And I was hitting some good approach shots and I got the putter going late.”
Anthony — who qualified for districts last season — could have ended his day even atop the leaderboard with Sheehan if not for a missed putt on the ninth hole. But the Titans senior was still happy about his overall performance.
“I was a little disappointed about it, but I’ll take a 35 any day,” he said.
South also got the third best round from Evan Casey, who put up a 1-over 37. After Anthony and Casey, a trio of 41s from Jack Cenci, Colin Johnston and Lizzie Palmieri enabled the Titans to better Souderton by four strokes.
“We’ve got a great group of guys this year,” Anthony said. “A lot of returning players and we’re looking to make a deep run.”
Central Bucks West was third, its 210 edging the 211 of defending conference champ CB East. North Penn (221) was fifth followed by William Tennent (228) and Pennridge (231).
Butler shook off some driving struggles with his work on the green to aid Big Red in its 199. Along with his and O’Malley’s 38, Souderton had Thomas Butler and Anthony Barr each shoot 4-over 40 and Evan Kreiser add a 7-over 43.
“I felt good about most everything except for driving,” Stephen Butler said. “My driving wasn’t the best today but I did pretty good putting.”
CB West’s Tommy Walsh tied the Souderton duo of O’Malley and Stephen Butler at 2-over 38 with the Bucks getting consistency from its next four top scorers — Trevor D’Arcy, Milo Jezzeny, Brock Nestory and Chaz Nestory all carding 7-over 43s.
Min Kim, who took second in last year’s SOL Girls Championship, paced North Penn with a 4-over 40 with Shane Herb posting a 5-over 41 for the Knights.
“I always have a little struggle with my putting. I’m still working on it,” Kim said. “Usually my putting, average usually over 20 putting, but today was 19. So it was working and my driver and my long shots were good I think and my short games were OK.”
Dan McCabe’s 6-over 42 lead William Tennent, who also had 8-over 44s from Ryan Foley and Colin Walsh.
Host Pennridge’s best round came from Michael Simpson, who shot a 5-over 41 while the Rams’ Cole White — who played with Sheehan, Anthony and Barr in the Invite’s top foursome — added a 9-over 45.
At Indian Valley Country Club
CB South (195): Kevin Anthony 35; Evan Casey 37; Jack Cenci 41; Colin Johnston 41; Lizie Palmieri 41.
Souderton (199): Stephen J. Butler 38; James O’Malley 38; Anthony Barr 40; Thomas Bulter 40; Evan Kreiser 43.
CB West (210): Tommy Walsh 38; Trevor D’Arcy 43; Milo Jezzeny 43; Brock Nestory 43; Chaz Nestory 43.
CB East (211): Patrick Sheehan 34; Matt Becker 41; Jack Haggerty 44; Jack Herbine 45; Jack Dunsmore 47.
North Penn (221): Min Kim 40; Shane Herb 41; Tyler Schulze 46; Josie Genuardi 47; Jack Harrigan 47.
William Tennent (228): Dan McCabe 42; Ryan Foley 44; Colin Walsh 44; Charlie Molzahn 49; Stephen Skiba 49.
Pennridge (231): Michael Simpson 41; Cole White 45; Paul Croyle 48; Christian Guldin 48; Blake Stewart 49.
Top Photo: Central Bucks East;s Patrick Sheehan tees off during the Pennridge Invitational golf tournament at Indian Valley Country Club on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)