Being at the state championship for the third time, Mitch Davis knows you can't win it all on the first day, but you could lose it.
"The whole goal of the first day of the tournament is to put yourself into position to win it going into the last day," said Davis, a Chesterton senior. "I wasn't going to force anything. A good example of that was on No. 13 where it was 240 (yards) to the pin and 225 to carry the water and I laid up. That's not what I usually do, but I knew I didn't have to take that chance."
Davis put himself in a prime spot thanks to a 4-under-par 68 Tuesday. He is at the top of the leaderboard following one round of play at the state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. The final round begins at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Davis started on the back nine and was 3-under at the turn. That included a pair of birdies on par 5s. He was 3-under on the course's four par-5s.
"I hit the ball really well and got off to a good start," he said. "I hit the driver pretty well (Tuesday) and missed the fairway maybe twice. I pounded a couple and hit one 315 on a 590-yard par 5 which allowed me to birdie it. It was a good start to the tournament."
Without a bogey for his first 16, he bogey his last two.
"Those are tough holes," Davis said. "There's a hazard that comes in tight on eight and I hit 3-wood, which has always been a challenging club for me my whole life. I thought I hit it perfect but it went in the hazard and I did a good job to get bogey. Nine was tough because it was 160 into the wind and you had to carry the water to a tough hole location and I hit the left bunker. I burned the edge for par."
The biggest difference for Davis was getting putts to fall — something that hadn't happened the last few times out.
"I only missed one putt inside of 10 feet. I had maybe six putts inside 10 and hit five of those," he said. "I finally got some putts to fall down and the greens here are perfect. I worked a lot with (Chesterton) coach (Jordan) Nelson on the putting greens."
He holds a three-stroke lead over Carmel sophomore Clay Stirsman.
"I'm going to be aggressive when I can and be conservative when I have to," Davis said. "I have to do (Wednesday) what I did today."
The Region's other qualifier, Michigan City sophomore Nick Gushrowski, struggled in his first state appearance, finishing with an 87.
"He was pretty good off the tee all day, but his irons and short game struggled," Michigan City coach Jeff Edinger said. "His misses seemed to find all the wrong places and that led to a couple of big numbers. I think he will regroup and have a much better day tomorrow."