Golfweek Program Challenge: 36 holes give boost to Old Dominion junior Chris Ayers

JuliaKate E. Culpepper/ Golfweek

Golfweek Program Challenge: 36 holes give boost to Old Dominion junior Chris Ayers

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Golfweek Program Challenge: 36 holes give boost to Old Dominion junior Chris Ayers

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Playing 36 holes in a day, especially in a team event can be grueling, but for Old Dominion junior Chris Ayers, it was just what he needed.

Ayers had the best day among his fellow Monarchs, shooting 69-66 in the first two rounds of the Golfweek Program Challenge at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club as his team finished the first day T-2 at 553 with South Carolina Upstate.

Ayers said he felt steady all day and his short game was strong, but that might be due to the fact that he enjoys 36-hole days.

“I actually like playing 36 because I feel like I’m just getting loosened up and warmed up on the first 18,” Ayers said after playing back-to-back rounds Monday in Pawleys Island, SC. “Even going back to years past, even summer events I always play better second 18. That’s not new for me.”

While he said he didn’t have many birdie putts at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Ayers radiated confidence after the round and was pleased with his play on a cloudless day that reached 88 degrees, but felt warmer with the South Carolina humidity.

“Every time I was inside 10 feet, I felt like I could make it,” Ayers said. “(I) drove the ball straight, accurately.”

GOLFWEEK PROGRAM CHAMPIONSHIP SCORES: Men | Women

Old Dominion coach Murray Rudisill said he was pleased with his team’s play in Monday’s round. They sit two strokes behind men’s leader Jacksonville State (551 total) and in a good position to take the Golfweek Program Challenge title during Tuesday’s 18-hole final round.

The men’s teams played the Caledonia course for the first time in event history, posing a challenge to players with its shorter holes.

“We just want to get in position to have a chance to win the last day,” Rudisill said. “We accomplished what we set out for… I liked it a lot, this took the driver out of a lot of our guys hands but that’s probably good.”

Over at True Blue Golf Club, Florida Atlantic holds a one-stroke lead among women’s teams its first appearance in the Golfweek Program Challenge, proving previous experience on the courses isn’t a necessity to put a team on top.

“The course is awesome, it’s a little wet so it’s playing a little longer but the heat is definitely a factor for sure,” FAU senior Amanda Leslie said.

Leslie shot a first-round 77 and tied for a team low of 72 with Kim Egozi in the second round to finish the first two rounds at 149. Taylor Morgan had the best two-round score of any Owls with rounds of 70-74.

While the bulk of the tournament was played Monday, FAU coach Aimee Neff said she doesn’t want her team— which wore hot pink shirts Monday— thinking about their lead too much. The teams sitting second through sixth place in the women’s competition are all separated by one shot entering Tuesday’s final round.

“Any team wants to be in this position,” Neff said. “No one wants to put themselves out of the tournament on the first day so I think you (need) win it on the first day of the second round. Thankfully we are in a position tomorrow that I think any team wants to be in.

“I know where girls are going to be excited about it, I am too, but at the same time 18 golf holes as a lot of golf among five golfers so we’re just gonna take it as cliché as it is one and one until we’re done.”

The final round at True Blue and Caledonia courses begins at 7:45 a.m. playing off the first and 10th tees on both courses.

Facts and numbers

Men

Round 1

  • Best team score: USC Upstate, 272
  • Best round: Jacksonville’s Michael Skane and Delaware’s Roberto Nieves, 64.
  • Individual: University of North Carolina Wilmington’s
    A. Segundo Oliva Pinto, 65.

Round 2

  • Best team score: Jacksonville State, 551
  • Best round:  Jacksonville State’s Jesus Montenegro, 64
  • Individual: University of North Carolina Wilmington’s A. Segundo Oliva Pinto, 66

Women

Round 1

  • Best team score: High Point, 290.
  • Best round: Marshall’s Shelby Brauckmuller, 69.
  • Individual: Stetson’s Wendy Hsiao, 70.

Round 2

Best team score: USC Upstate, 293.
Best round: Jacksonville’s Maia Samuelsson, 69.
Individual: Stetson’s Wendy Hsiao and Delaware’s Kylie Greulich, 81.

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