South Central: Texas A&M in familiar top spot
Leaders: Texas A&M, TCU (11-under 277)
Individual leaders: Elvira (Nacho) Ignacio, Texas A&M; Daniel Jennevret, TCU; Kevin Phelan, North Florida; Dustin Garza, Wichita State (6-under 66).
The top 5: 3. North Florida (280); 4. Texas Tech (282); 5. Wichita State (283).
Close behind: 6. Pepperdine (286); 7. Auburn (288); 8. Baylor (291); 9. Tulsa (292).
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Home Sweet Home: The Tradition Club is certainly that for Texas A&M. The Aggies once again were a dominant force, and their 11-under-par opening round comes a month after they won their own Aggie Invitational here with a 38-under-par total.
“We’re confident and comfortable here and know the course well, so it’s a huge advantage for us,” Texas A&M coach J.T. Higgins said. “All day today everyone was pretty much in control of their game. We never got into any serious trouble. In one sense, it was a very business-like round.
“Actually, I think it’s a tremendous advantage for any of the teams who have played here,” said Higgins, who guided the Aggies to the NCAA Championship title last season.
He was pretty much on the money with the last statement. Consider that TCU and Texas Tech competed last month in the Aggie Invitational, and Wichita State, Baylor and Tulsa have played in the past, as well.
“We’ve been here before, and I think that helps put the mind at ease a little,” Texas Tech coach Greg Sands said. “We leaked a little oil at the end, but overall, I think the guys were very comfortable out there today.”
“Our guys know the golf course, maybe not as well as Texas A&M, but I think they feel comfortable out there,” TCU coach Bill Montigel said. “It was nice to come out of the gate strong, because the last thing you want to do is get behind the 8-ball in the first round.”
No bite in the Dawgs: Georgia came into this regional as the No. 2 seed, with victories at the Morris Williams and SEC Championship. But the Bulldogs had very little bite on this calm, overcast day. Georgia, which at one point was tied for 13th in the 14-team field, finished the day in the No. 10 spot and will have its work cut out over the next two rounds to place among the top five and advance to the NCAA finals. The Bulldogs shot 6-over 294, 11 strokes behind fifth-place Wichita State. “Very disappointing,” is the way Georgia coach Chris Haack summed up the day. “It’s certainly not where we want to be.” Russell Henley was the only Bulldog to break par, shooting a 1-under 71.
Mr. Moreland’s wild ride: Auburn’s Cole Moreland had the day’s – maybe the season’s – wildest ride. Consider this: He shot 5-under 31 on the front side, which included two bogeys. He played one four-hole stretch in 6 under. He had two eagles, one of which was a hole-in-one. He had nine under-par holes and six over-par holes. And the end result was a 3-under 69.
“It was about as an insane round as you will ever see,” Moreland said. “On the two holes I bogeyed, I hit a couple of the worst shots I’ve hit in college, duck hooks, chunk wedges, balls in hazards. There were times I had no clue what was going to happen next.”
Moreland birdied the second hole and followed with back-to-back bogeys. He was 1 over going to the par-5 sixth hole. Then he made his run. He holed out a lob wedge shot from 68 yards for eagle and followed with birdies at Nos. 7 (15 feet) and 8 (12 feet). At the par-3, 203-yard ninth hole, his 6-iron hit about 2 feet beyond the cup and spun back into the hole for an ace. His back nine consisted of four bogeys and a pair of birdies.
“At times I was just all over the place,” he said. “Without a doubt, it was an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish.”
Quote of the day: “You can’t get under par unless you make some birdies, and you can’t make some birdies if you don’t make some putts. And that’s how our day went.” - Georgia coach Chris Haack, on his No. 2-seeded Bulldogs, who shot 6-over-par 294 and were in 10th place in the 14-team field after the opening round.