West: Washington starts strong at home

Washington's Nick Taylor

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2Robby SheltonAlabama  68.58 
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Leader: Washington (2-under 286)

Individual leader: Espen Kofstad, Denver; Dustin Morris, Colorado State (3-under 69)

The top 5: T-2. Colorado State, Oregon State (291); 4. Illinois (293); 5. San Diego (294)

Close behind: 6. USC (297); 7. Middle Tennessee State (299); 8. VCU (302); 9. Eastern Michigan (303)

• • •

Playing close to home, Washington continued its recent good play with a strong start at the West Regional. The Huskies, coming off their come-from-behind Pac-10 Championship victory, shot a 2-under 286 Thursday to take a five-stroke lead at the soggy Olympic Course at Gold Mountain in Bremerton, Wash.

“All in all, a great day when you have a 73 and that is your throw-out score,” Washington coach Matt Thurmond said. “When you don’t count anything over par on a day like today – that is pretty awesome.”

Colorado State and Oregon State are second after a first-round 291, and Big Ten champ Illinois is fourth at 293. San Diego is another shot back at 294.

Colorado State’s Dustin Morris and Denver’s Espen Kofstad, Golfweek’s 50th-ranked player, shot 3-under 69s to lead the individual race. Nebraska’s Brandon Crick, Illinois’ Luke Guthrie and Washington’s Darren Wallace are tied for third at 2 under.

There is a seven-way tie for eighth at even par, including Washington star Nick Taylor and Oregon State’s Diego Velasquez, both of whom are ranked in the top 5 by Golfweek.

Washington, No. 4 in Golfweek’s rankings, is riding high after a thrilling victory two weeks ago at the Pac-10 Championship, where the Huskies overcame a seven-stroke deficit in the final round to beat Stanford by three. It was Washington’s second consecutive conference title.

Information from the Washington athletic department was used in this report.

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