BLOOMINGTON — If Andy Bott was nervous stepping to the first tee in his inaugural appearance at the IHSA state golf meet, most would have understood.
The Bismarck-Henning sophomore insists he wasn't, however, and if you don't believe him, take a look at his scorecard for proof. The left-handed-swinging Bott fired a 1-under-par 71 during the opening round of the Class 1A meet at Prairie Vista and enters today's final 18 holes with a 3-shot lead over Eureka's Trevor Gold.
"I was expecting to be nervous, but it never really got to me too much," Bott said. "It was fun."
If you define fun as erasing two front-nine bogeys with a pair of birdies followed by a bogey-free back nine, then Bott is spot on. He battled a steady 15 mph wind, with gusts up to 22 mph, and was the only player to shoot par or better.
"I have a low ball flight anyway. It affected me but not too much," Bott said of the wind. "I worked on my knockdowns this summer, and it really helped today."
Bott, who shot a 33 earlier this season at Harrison Park to tie Michael Davan and Andrew Jones for the school record, is looking to become the program's first state champion. Davan (fifth) and Jones (10th) had the best showings in 2006.
"Andy has really come along here in the last few weeks. He started out strong at the beginning of the year and had just a little bit of a lull, but he's just playing solid," B-H coach Terry French said. "That wind was howling over here today, and he just played smart golf all day long. It really gives us a boost."
Bott was far from the only Blue Devil to have a strong start. They shot 318 and trail only North Shore Country Day (316) entering today's final round.
"It couldn't have started any better for us," French said.
Austin Toler fired an eventful 77, and freshman David Warren carded an 84. Tyler Moews' 86 rounded out the top four scores for the Blue Devils, who got a 92 from Stephen Krout and a 94 from Jared Anderson.
"The round out of Toler today, what more can I ask from him? All the kids played great today. Stephen Krout chipped in for birdie on the first hole," French said. "(Toler) can do that, he has that capability. His head just gets in the way a little bit."
Toler showed his good side (seven birdies) and got in his own way at times (seven bogeys, double bogey, triple bogey). But he's a big reason the Blue Devils are in position to capture their first state trophy after a sixth-place finish in 2005 and a fourth-place showing in 2006.
"It really wasn't fun, but I'll take it," Toler said. "It felt amazing because I didn't really have any expectations. We were just excited to be there. Playing well made it even better."
The trick now for the Blue Devils, who passed the time Friday evening by playing video games and watching TV in their Bloomington-area hotel, was to figure out a way to get some rest.
"We're gonna go eat somewhere tonight, hopefully somewhere nice," said Toler, who was tied for fifth. "We probably won't get much (rest); there's too much on the line."
Judah Christian's Nick Berger was tied for 15th after a 79 Friday.
In Class 2A, Mahomet-Seymour senior Garrett Cox was tied for eighth after a 76 Friday at the Weibring Course in Normal. Cox was 19th last year. Monticello's Drew Heffley (79) was tied for 11th. Centennial's Grey Schultz (81) was tied for 29th for the Chargers, who were 10th, 33 shots behind first-place Belleville Althoff.