COLUMBUS — Charlie Phillips knows the state golf tournament is a two-day grind. This is his third time at the tournament, so that’s why he wasn’t panicking when he got to 5-over-par through the first 11 holes Friday.
The Mount Vernon senior kept plugging along, finally getting the break he was looking for when he chipped in for a birdie on the 12th hole. That birdie started a five-hole stretch where Phillips was 4-under-par and it helped him to a 2-over-par score of 73 after the first 18 holes of the Division I tournament at The Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course. After the first day, Phillips was second individually.
“I didn’t think I got off to a very good beginning. I was trying to stick with it, minimize the damage and wait on something good to happen,” Phillips said. “The chip-in at 12 really got me going. I had three (birdies) in a row and four of five. I just stuck in there and finally got it back.”
The 12th hole looked like it might be more of the same for Phillips, who had bogeyed three of the previous four holes. His first chip shot on the par 5 rolled up near the hole, then back down the hill right back to him. He had to chip again, but this one was pure and it rolled into the hole for birdie.
“I thought it was a good (first) chip. Then I looked and the ball came back to me,” Phillips said.
That birdie lit a fire inside of Phillips. The Kent State-signee stuck his tee shot on the 195-yard par 3 13th hole to just four feet and made the birdie putt. He followed that up with a curving shot on 14 that got to within 10 feet. That birdie was his third in a row and got him back to 2-over.
After a par on 15, Phillips nearly holed out for eagle on No. 16. His iron shot into the green backed up down the hill and hit the edge of the cup before running past about four feet. The tap-in birdie was his fourth in five holes.
“I thought it was in. I knew that ridge was over there and I played with a little bit in the practice round. I kind of used that to my advantage and was able to get it close,” Phillips said.
Phillips just missed a birdie on 17, then gave one back with a three putt on 18. But, his 2-over-par score of 73 on the 7,115-yard layout puts him just two shots behind leader Michael Ricaurte of St. Charles.
“Nothing was really great until the 12th hole. I didn’t feel confident over anything, really. I was just telling myself to hang in there. I knew scores were high. I was just trying to keep it in the 70s. It worked out in the end,” Phillips said. “I know I didn’t hit it great today. Hopefully, I can come out and hit it better tomorrow. Maybe post a better round.”
Phillips will tee off today at 9:48 a.m. on the front nine at OSU Scarlet. He’ll play with two-time defending state champion Korey Ward of West Chester Lakota West and Nick Huggins of Marietta.