Providence Christian star Ryan Benton is 18 holes from the Class 1A-2A Individual State Golf Championship. Benton fired a -3, 69 during Monday's first round action at Grand National Golf Course in Opelika.
Benton holds a four-stroke lead over Austin Sparks from Red Bay. Shoals Christian star Ben Wood is two more strokes off the pace at +3.
It was a rocky start for Benton, who started with a par, par, bogey card through his first three holes. But, Benton caught fire, hitting birdies on three of his next four holes, moving to -2.
Benton made birdies on the 4th, 5th, 7th, 12th and 14th holes, eventually moving to -4. He made a bogey on the 15th hole, and finished with three pars to end with the -3, 69.
Benton took advantage of a golfer's best friend, the par 5s, during his opening round. He played the four par-5 holes at -4.
Benton's teammate, Jonathan Cheshire will begin the final round in 5th place, after shooting a +5, 77. Providence Christian is in excellent position to capture the 1A-2A Team State Championship as well, shooting a collective +23 during their opening rounds.
The Eagles hold a 15-stroke lead on St. Luke's, and a 16-stroke edge on perennial power Shoals Christian. Other Eagles in the field include Beau Scott (+9), Corey Smith (+12) and Calum Masters (+14)
Other local golfers in the 1A-2A final include Houston Academy's Chase Feagin, who's tied for 9th place at +8 and Geneva County's Isaac Hatcher at +15.
Andalusia's Josh Atkinson is competing in the 4A Championship. Atkinson shot a +4, 76, finishing the first round in a tie for 6th place.