SE Louisiana leads First Tee Collegiate
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Southeastern Louisiana fired the best round of the 36-hole day – even-par 288 in the afternoon – to grab a five-stroke lead Monday in the 19th annual University of Arkansas-Little Rock First Tee Collegiate Classic at Chenal Country Club’s Bear Den course.
The Lions, at Golfweek/Sagarin No. 70 the best ranked team in the field of 16, stand at 7-over par 583 after an opening-round 295.
Sam Houston State, No. 96, followed its first-round-leading 292 with a 296 for a 12-over 588, while Louisiana-Monroe is another six shots back at 594.
Austin Peay had the second-best round of the day (3-over 291 in the afternoon), and Illinois State came in next at 20-over 596, while Eastern Michigan, after opening with 297, struggled a bit with a 304 afternoon round, standing at 601.
“The conditions, the weather, the course, the greens, were perfect out there today,” Southeastern Louisiana coach Tim Baldwin said. “There were a lot of birdies to be had; you just had to make the putts. But this is also a course where if you go off line even just a little, you can get into real trouble.
“It’s been a long day, that’s for sure,” said Baldwin, referring to the 11 hours on the course to complete the two rounds. “There’s definitely some tired puppies out here right now.”
Veteran Sam Houston State coach Ronnie Choate had mixed feelings about his team’s performance, especially in the afternoon.
“We got a little sloppy out there at times, made some dumb mistakes and struggled a bit,” he said. “Heck, we had two guys hit the wrong ball out there. But overall, it was a good outing for us, better than I expected.”
Added Eastern Michigan coach Bruce Cunningham, “Just when you think you have a decent round going, Chenal comes back and bites you. It did that to us this afternoon, especially at the end.”
Chenal, which will host this year’s Southern Amateur championship in July, definitely was the day’s winner.
Only three individuals managed to break par over 36 holes, with just three others shooting even par.
Missouri State’s Will Hogan led the trio at the top, following an opening 74 with the day’s best round, a 4-under 68 for a 2-under 142 total. Joining him are Philipp Westermann of Southeastern Louisiana (71-71) and Scott Kelly of Sam Houston State (69-73).
In at even-par 144 are Wils Hawn of Illinois State (69-75), Michael McLeroy of Stephen F. Austin (70-74) and Santiago Mejia of Southeastern Louisiana (72-72).
Garrett Driver of Sam Houston State had the tournament’s lone eagle in the opening 18 holes, that coming at the par-5, 535-yard 10th hole. He went on to shoot 7-over 79 and was the team’s throw-out score.