BRADENTON, Fla. – Illinois and Georgia were the only two teams Friday that escaped Concession without counting a double bogey.
No surprise, they’re atop the leaderboard after the first round of the NCAA Championship.
Avoiding the big number is a point of emphasis for everybody at Concession, where doubles and triples can be made on, well, just about any hole, even the par 5s.
“You’ve gotta get dirty out here,” Illinois coach Mike Small said. “A lot of bad things can happen to you, and you have to be able to deal with it.”
No team did that better on Day 1 than the Illini, who shot 2-under 286 to sit two shots clear. Junior Thomas Detry led the way with a 4-under 68 that featured six birdies on his back nine.
Georgia Tech may have led the field in birdies made (21), but its offense was negated by four doubles or worse. The Yellow Jackets shot 5 over in the first round and were seven shots back.
Concession poses such a threat not just because of its many water hazards, which is typical of any Florida course, but more so because of the slopes on the greens and the runoffs into low areas that can make chipping and pitching difficult.
“It’s hard to minimize your mistakes out here,” Texas coach John Fields said.
“You just have to be very attentive,” said Florida State sophomore Jack Maguire, who shot 71.
Maguire was staring at a big number on the par-5 seventh, and that was after being in perfect position for his third shot. His wedge shot drifted a little left and missed the green, then he chipped over the green and watched as his ball ran all the way off the other side, about 25 yards away. A good lag to 3 feet left him fortunate to walk off with a bogey-6.
“That could have gotten out of hand quickly,” he said. “There’s not one hole you can take a breath here.”
Overall, the scoring average was 75.51, with 140 doubles and 43 others.
One of the many 28 teams contributing to the carnage was South Carolina, ranked sixth in the country. The Gamecocks counted two doubles and a pair of triples on their opening nine alone, but played the last three holes in 5 under par as a team to salvage a 13-over 301.
“We haven’t played conservative all year,” coach Bill McDonald said. “It’s hard to change those stripes, so you just hope that those hot stretches will make up for it.”