Halfway through the NCCGA National Championship, Michigan holds a small cushion on chasers Campbell, Virginia and Baylor. Playing on the Love course at Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the northerners posted 17-over 377 on a postcard day. The next task will be to hold that lead when the team switches to the tougher Dye course on Sunday.
Michigan leads Campbell by five shots as Virginia and Baylor each sit another shot behind that. All three pursuers remain in contention after the first round of the national championship, where each team fields eight competitors and counts the five lowest rounds.
Michigan’s effort was led by Pat Colburn, who posted even-par 72 on Saturday. Teammates Trevor Grigg (75, T-12) and Luke Stull (76, T-19) were also key in Michigan’s rise to the top of the leaderboard.
For Stull, it was a matter of managing greens and keeping a see-saw round under control.
“I had a couple of four-putts for double-bogey, made a couple other double-bogies, too,” he said. “I had a lot of eagle putts, and made four or five birdies. It wasn’t a very consistent round, but it was good to be out on the golf course again.”
Stull is in his freshman year at Michigan, and less than a year removed from leading Hackett Catholic Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich., to a state championship title. He’s hoping to leave Myrtle Beach with a rare double.
“It would be nice to come out of this as a national champ and state champ in the same calendar year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Campbell’s counters fell in a tight clump slightly farther down the leaderboard. The Camels counted three rounds of 4-over 76 and two rounds of 5-over 77 on the Dye Course.
Baylor’s Hogan Hudgins is the individual to chase. Hudgins posted the only sub-par score on Saturday, with a 2-under 70 on Barefoot’s Dye Course. He opened with a birdie, then made three birdies in his final four holes.
Hudgins tends to excel on Dye layouts, and Saturday was no different. Most of all, Hudgins felt comfortable getting back in competitive mode.
“I miss it from back in my junior days,” he said.
The key for Hudgins now will be getting enough rest and keeping his head on straight for Sunday’s second round. After a noon shotgun on Saturday, the alarms will ring considerably earlier on Sunday.
“I have played in enough tournaments where 8 a.m. shotguns don’t bother me, but just to keep myself in contention I’ve got to stay in the moment,” Hudgins said. “I cannot get too ahead of myself. I didn’t get too ahead of myself and that’s really what kept me together today.”
Hudgins leads a trio of players at even par that includes Colburn, Jorge Betancor of National University and Austin Doebler of Virginia.
Betancor is in his freshman year at National, located in San Diego, Calif. He grew up in Spain and names Seve Ballesteros as an idol. Betancor was able to score Saturday because he missed in the right spots around Barefoot’s Dye Course.
“Even if you don’t hit greens you can still get up and down if you hit it in the right spots,” he said.
It was a good goal to have on Saturday – finding the right spot on the course as well as the leaderboard.