Northwesterns Jonathan Bowers, Illinois Scott Langley and North Carolina States Matt Hill shot 2-under-par 69s to lead the individual race, while Oklahoma State and Georgia shared the team lead through Tuesdays opening round at the NCAA Division I mens golf championship.
It was very tough out there today, Georgia coach Chris Haack said. With the wind picking up and the severity of the golf course, its just survival. Judging by the scores that you see some of these teams shooting ' which are very good teams ' it just lets you know that at any given time (the course) can up and bite you.
Bowers battled showers while shooting his 69 in the morning, while Langley and Hill fought through winds and chilly temperatures in the afternoon at the 7,255-yard layout.
On holes six through nine it was coming down pretty good, said Bowers, a left-handed junior who had four birdies and two bogeys. We had our umbrellas and rain gear on. And then it softened. It didnt rain nearly as hard after that.
It didnt rain in the afternoon, although the early precipitation made the high, deep rough even harder to extricate an errant shot. Then the wind picked up and the mercury fell.
I played great to shoot the score I did, said Langley, a sophomore who offset a double and two bogeys with six birdies. Its a tough course anyway, then with the conditions ' it was kind of cold and windy.
Hill, a contender for national player of the year, was pleased that he persevered even though he three-putted the final hole for a bogey.
I feel like I put myself in really good position, he said. I have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.
TCUs Tom Hoge was 4 under through 17 holes, but was short-sided in a greenside bunker and twice had his ball roll back at him after shots. His triple-bogey left him at 70 along with San Diegos Alex Ching, UCLAs Philip Francis, Tennessees David Holmes and Washingtons Nick Taylor. Only eight players in the 156-man field broke par.
This is a long golf tournament, so one hole is not going to kill you, Hoge said. Its a little bit frustrating to leave some shots out there on the last hole, but I know we have a lot of work left.
Top-seeded Oklahoma State, led by Trent Leons 71, totaled 4-over 288 and was joined there by Georgia, led by 71s from Russell Henley and Brian Harman.
The Cowboys didnt count the 74 of Kevin Tway, playing on the same course where his father Bob holed a sand shot on the 72nd hole to stun Greg Norman and win the 1986 PGA Championship.
This is the first year the tournament is being played under a combination medal and match play format. All 30 qualifying teams and the six individual players will compete in three days of medal play. Those 54 holes will determine the medalist and will cut the field to a final eight teams for match play. The teams will then play quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Friday, with the championship match set to start for Saturday.
Chattanooga was a surprising third with 292 strokes, followed by Washington and San Diego with 293; Arizona State, Ohio State and Tennessee with 294; Michigan with 296; and Arkansas and Duke with 297.
At even-par 71 along with Leon, Henley and Harman were UCFs Simon Ward, Chattanoogas Fredrik Qvicker, Corey Nagy of Charlotte and Arkansas Jamie Marshall.
Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw watched his team get to 7 under midway through the round only to have a bad series of holes cost the Cowboys. Still, they were able to recover.
We had it going backwards, he said. I think we lost about nine shots total on that four- or five-hole stretch. So Im pleased, though, that we survived it.