BRAZIL -- On a windy day at Oak Ridge, the North Putnam golf team was undaunted Wednesday, firing a 154 to defeat county rival South Putnam 154-176.
Cougar coach Dave Fox has taken notice of his team's consistent effort early in the season.
"I've got five guys who are really playing consistent. They seem to master all the conditions," Fox said.
Another luxury Fox has enjoyed is the ability of any one of those five to step up and fire a low round. On Wednesday, Vondersaar came from the No. 5 position to tie for the low round.
"I don't know who's going to come out on top each week. My number five guy can play as number one and my number one guy can play as number one," Fox commented. "They're all playing good, solid golf and I'm proud of them. They're just doing great."
South Putnam coach Scott Ricke simply had to tip his cap to the Cougars following the round.
"I just want to commend North Putnam on a great performance," Ricke said. "On a windy day like this, to put up a 154 on a visitor course is very impressive.
"They're a strong team one through five and I look forward to seeing how they progress and get better as the year goes on. I think they'll be a threat in conference and a threat even in sectional," he continued. "I really like their team this year and I think they're pretty strong."
For Ricke's young Eagle squad, the year continues to be a learning experience. Tyler Newby and Damon Robinson shot matching 42s. Matt Huck added a 45, while Tyler Shoffner fired a 47.
"Considering the conditions, I think we did OK," Ricke said. "I think there were a few holes where we could have been a little smarter with our shots and not play into the wind's hands."
While North was 23 shots lower than South on the evening, they are two teams in very different situations. Ricke is measuring success in a different way than his counterpart at North.
"We're really young. I think staying in the 170s here is okay for this team," Ricke said. "We're still learning a lot. We're still growing and I think of this as a learning experience."
On that front, the coach is nothing but pleased with his team's willingness to learn.
As the only Eagle returning with significant varsity experience, Ricke has expected and gotten quite a bit out of Newby.
"Newby is our captain. Without question, he is a great example for the other kids on work ethic and character. He's an absolute vital part to this team. Even when he doesn't have a great night, he's still going to put up decent, competitive numbers that are really important to the team. We really rely and lean on Tyler a lot."
For the Cougars, the dynamic has been the opposite, as one freshman, Vondersaar, finds his place among four seniors in the top five.
"Aaron's coming right along. He kind of took the middle school by surprise last year and played real well. He's moved right into the varsity and he's owned it," Fox said.
"The four seniors I have are taking him under their wings," he continued. "They're all playing solid golf and they're all helping. They're all talking golf, all the way around. It's very easy to coach. All I have to do is watch them."
North is back in action at Turkey Run Golf Course at 8 a.m. Saturday for the Southmont Invitational. South hosts Rockville at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
At Oak Ridge
North Putnam 154, South Putnam 176
Medalists -- Burns (NP) 38, Vondersaar (NP) 38.
North Putnam -- Burns 38, Vondersaar 38, Malayer 39, Redman 39, Byrd 43, Smith 49, Mitchener 57.
South Putnam -- Newby 42, Robinson 42, Huck 45, Shoffner 47, Nichols 55, Gilbert 55, Cox 56.
Next match -- North Putnam travels to Turkey Run Golf Course for the Southmont Invitational at 8 a.m. Saturday. South Putnam hosts Rockville at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Oak Ridge.