TOP TEAM: UNLV (1-under 287)
TOP INDIVIDUAL: John Oda, UNLV (5-under 67)
IN POSITION: Illinois (288), New Mexico (288), South Carolina (291), Florida (292), Auburn (292), Purdue (292)
CHASING: St. Mary’s (294), Augusta (296), Richmond (297)
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JOHNNY REBEL: UNLV junior John Oda has been the Rebels’ leader all season. The Honolulu native has two wins and eight other top 10s this season, including seven straight top 10s entering regionals.
On Monday, Oda continued his stellar play with a 5-under 67 to take a one-shot lead at Kampen Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ind. The Rebels lead as a team at 1-under 287, a shot better than Illinois and New Mexico.
Oda, who was invited to the Walker Cup practice session last December and is in the running to make the U.S. team this year, birdied four of his last seven holes in Monday’s opening round.
Shintaro Ban, whose older brother, Shotaro, played for Cal, is solo sixth at 2 under. UNLV also counted a 73 from Harry Hall and a 77, shot by two players, Justin Kim and Taylor Montgomery.
UNLV is competing in its NCAA-record 29th straight NCAA regional.
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SLOW START FOR TOP SEED: Florida entered regionals fresh off a heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt in the semifinals of the SEC Championship. The talented Gators took some time to get over that defeat – and understandably so.
“Losing in the SEC Championship hurt a lot,” said Florida head coach J.C. Deacon. “Since then, I’ve seen a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication and the guys are really prepared. I feel really good about the guys and I think they feel pretty good. We’re all just ready to get going because it’s been so long since we competed. We’re ready to play.”
On Monday, the Gators opened with a 4-over 292 and sit five shots off the lead. No Florida player broke par, though Ale Tosti and Gordon Neale did each card even-par 70. Sophomore Sam Horsfield, who will turn pro following this season, shot 75 and freshman standout Andy Zhang’s 76 didn’t count for the Gators.
Florida has five team wins this season, only the eighth time in program history and the first time since 2011 that it has done so. The top five teams will advance to next week’s NCAA Championship.
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SHORT SHOTS: Illinois is just a shot off the lead, but junior Dylan Meyer, a Haskins Award contender, didn’t get off the best start, shooting 3-over 75. Edoardo Lipparelli led the way for the Illinois with a 68. … New Mexico had three players shoot 71: Andrej Bevins, Andre Garcia and Gustavo Morantes. … Purdue, the host for this regional, was led by Austin Eoff (T-8) and had four players shoot 74 or better. … Colorado, which lost top player Jeremy Paul to pro golf this spring, opened with a 16-over 304.