Gabe in striking distance after first day of state golf tournament

Viera High senior shoots 75


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Viera High's Briana Gabe watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during Tuesday's opening round of the Class 3A state golf tournament in Howey-in-the-Hills. Gabe shot a 75 and will try to move up the leaderboard when the tournament resumes on Wednesday.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS – Briana Gabe knows she’s going to have to play well Wednesday in order to get to the top of the leaderboard at the Class 3A state championship tournament.

But the Viera High senior also knows she’s in striking distance.

Gabe shot a 3-over-par 75 opening round Tuesday at the Mission Inn & Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills. She will tee off Wednesday six strokes out of the lead.

“It was pretty good,” Gabe said of her first round. “I just missed some birdie opportunities, and off the tee, I wasn’t hitting it as good as I wanted to.”

Gabe, who shot a 66 to win the district championship, was competing as an individual on Tuesday after the young Hawks failed to qualify as a team during last week’s regionals.

However, as one of only two seniors on this year’s Viera team, playing at the Mission Inn is nothing new for Gabe. In fact, she can now say she has played in the state tournament all four years she has been a Hawk.

And while she wasn’t at her best on Tuesday, she still has a chance to finish strong.

Jacqueline Putrino of Riverview High was one of six players to shoot under part Tuesday, coming in with a 3-under 69 to take the opening round lead. Gabe is in a four-way tie for 20th place.

Viera coach Greg Ford said he thought Gabe hit the ball pretty well, but struggled a little bit on the back nine, particularly on two par 5 holes.

“She played pretty well,” Ford said. “She struck it well. She’ll be fine (on Wednesday). The good thing is she’s in contention. She’s put herself in the position where she can make a run at it (Wednesday).”

Gabe said her best hole Tuesday was on the 14th hole, a 497-yard par 4 known as “Due Left” because it features a strong dogleg left shaped like the letter “L.”

“I hit my tee shot over the trees and hit an 8-iron to (within) 10-15 feet (of the hole),” she said. “Then, I made the birdie (putt).”

With a few more holes like that on Wednesday, Gabe could see herself start to move up the leaderboard.

“I’m going to have to put up a really good score tomorrow,” she said. “If I play like I did at districts, I have a shot.”