Southeast: Uihlein, Cowboys grab early lead
Leader: Oklahoma State (2-over 282)
Individual leaders: BYU’s Robbie Fillmore; Georgia Tech’s J.T. Griffin; Mississippi’s Jonathan Randolph; Oklahoma State’s Peter Uihlein (2-under 68)
The top 5: 2. Clemson (283); 3. Georgia Tech (287); 4. Georgia Southern (288); 5. BYU (289).
Close behind: 6. Arizona State (290); T-7. South Alabama, Wake Forest, Furman (292).
• • •
Stroke saver: Peter Uihlein, and his Oklahoma State team, wouldn’t be in the lead if not for a kind gesture from Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler.
Uihlein pulled his tee shot into a hazard on the par-5 12th hole. He didn’t see any stakes, so he was prepared to hit a provisional in case his tee shot was lost.
“Coach Heppler, right before I was about to hit, said, ‘I think it’s a hazard, so you don’t want to hit,’ ” Uihlein said. It was indeed a hazard, so Uihlein was able to drop from where his tee shot crossed the hazard line.
After his drop, Uihlein laid up to 104 yards, then holed a 15-foot par putt. If Uihlein had hit his second tee shot, it would’ve been as if Uihlein had lost his tee shot.
“He’s one of the nicest guys out there,” Uihlein said of Heppler.
Uihlein first played the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in 2005, as a member of the Canon Cup team.
Also tied for the lead are Mississippi’s Jonathan Randolph and John Tyler Griffin of host Georgia Tech. Randolph, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7, has finished in the top 3 in five of six starts this spring. Fillmore was the medalist at the 2008 U.S. Amateur.
Alpharetta is about 30 minutes from the Georgia Tech campus, but the Yellow Jackets have been staying in a hotel in Alpharetta for the last two weeks because the team had to move out of its on-campus housing when the school year ended.
• • •
Three of a kind: Capital City Club’s large, undulating greens make it easy for players to three-putt. Take Oklahoma State senior Trent Whitekiller, who had six bogeys despite hitting 16 greens. He hit it on the fringe on the two holes where he missed the green.
All six of Whitekiller’s bogeys were three-putts. He still shot 71, thanks to an eagle and three birdies.
“I was leaving myself a lot of 5-6 footers,” Whitekiller said. “It was very frustrating, to say the least.”
Whitekiller three-putted three of his first four holes, but eagled No. 5 after driving the green on the 315-yard, par 4 and making a 20-foot putt.
• • •
Palling around: Furman was running away with the Southeast Regional early in the first round. The Paladins were 4 under halfway through the front nine, and five shots ahead of No. 1 Oklahoma State.
The Paladins played the back nine in 10-over par, and shot 12-over 292 to sit in a three-way tie for seventh.
“If we hadn’t started well, who knows where we would’ve been,” said Furman head coach Todd Satterfield.
The bottom of Furman’s lineup struggled with the closing holes at the Crabapple Course. Furman’s No. 5 player, Jack Ulrich, was even par through 14 holes, but played his last four holes in 5 over. Anthony Aloi, the Paladins’ No. 4, finished double bogey-bogey-birdie. Austin Reeves bogeyed the final five holes to shoot 78 and be the team’s non-counting scorer.
Furman was led by its No. 3 player, Garland Ferrell, who shot 69. Ferrell isn’t actually the Paladins’ third-best player. His lineup spot is a matter of preference, because he doesn’t have to wait as long to tee off. A team’s No. 5 player traditionally tees off first, and the No. 1 player tees off last.
In fact, there’s trouble discerning between the ability of Furman’s top three players - Daniel Bowden, Austin Reeves and Ferrell. They played in all 29 of the team’s rounds, and all tallied 2,113 strokes (72.9 average).
• • •
Southern Comfort: Georgia Southern, No. 60 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, is in fourth place. The Eagles finished second in the Southern Conference Championship, 16 shots behind Furman. Georgia Southern’s Logan Blondell shot 69. He thinks the Crabapple Course, which doesn’t allow many low scores, suits his team.
“Scores aren’t going to be extremely low,” Blondell said. “We play better on this type of course. We just have a bunch of guys that bust their butt out there, just try really hard, so a course like this is perfect.”
• • •
Quote of the day: “Hopefully they’re starting to believe the BS I tell them.” – Clemson head coach Larry Penley. The Tigers struggled in the fall, but have played well in the spring, thanks to experience. Besides U.S. Amateur runner-up Ben Martin, the other four Tigers at the regional had combined to play 15 events before this season. Two – Corbin Mills and Crawford Reeves – are freshmen.