Staff and wire reports
STILLWATER, Okla. – The Northwestern men’s golf squad shot an 8-under 280 on the first 18 holes at Karsten Creek Golf Club, a par 72, 7,460-yard track, surpassing the course’s single-round record on the first day of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships, hosted by Oklahoma State University.
The previous low 18-hole score in a team event was a 6-under 282 put together by Florida at the 1996 Karsten Creek Collegiate.
“We did a good job today, but this was just the first task of the week,” said Northwestern coach David Inglis, a former University of Tulsa player. “We needed to come out and play a good first round and we did that. We’ve got to move on tomorrow and be ready to go again. At any moment this course could bear its teeth and we know the struggle is coming at some point, so you’ve got to be ready to fight it out.”
Northwestern’s record-setting performance gives the Wildcats a three-shot lead over Oklahoma, four over Texas Tech and five over Oklahoma State, with first-round play called to a halt with all of those schools still on the course due darkness. Two rain delays totaling 3:28 made for a long day for the 30 teams and six individuals competing.
The three Sooners and Cowboys who were on the course when play was suspended will resume their rounds with a shotgun start on Saturday at 7 a.m. Following the completion of their rounds, the Sooners will begin the second round at approximately 8 a.m. CT off the first tee.
The Sooners were led by the top of their lineup in sophomore Quade Cummins and junior Blaine Hale. Cummins carded five birdies, including four over his first nine holes, to shoot a 4-under 68. He sunk his final putt of the day at 8:53 p.m. on the ninth green to complete a full round.
Hale was the first Sooner in the clubhouse after shooting a 69. After producing a pair of bogeys on his first three holes, Hale went bogey-free in the remainder of his round and made an 8-foots eagle putt on hole No. 1 after making the turn.
“It’s great getting off to a good start,” said OU head coach Ryan Hybl. “It’s better than the alternative. I feel like we had two guys go lead the charge with Blaine and Quade just superstars out there, 3 and 4 under par. Big time rounds out of those guys and they’re actually finished, so that’s nice. Our other guys are hanging in there.”
While Hale and Cummins completed their rounds, sophomore Garrett Reband (8 over with two holes remaining), senior Grant Hirschman (3 over with two holes remaining) and junior Brad Dalke (1-under with three holes remaining) will wrap up their first round in the morning.
The Sooners and Cowboys were originally scheduled to tee off at 12:20 p.m. but due to two weather delays did not begin their rounds until 3:48. Only 15 of the 30 teams in the field played complete rounds and some groups have as many as 10 holes remaining in their first round.
For Oklahoma State, freshman Austin Eckroat went off in the lead position and was 3-under through 14 holes before a bogey on 5 and a double bogey on 6. He fought back with a clutch 17-foot par putt on the par-3 seventh and a birdie on the par-4 eighth to shoot 1-under 71.
Shortly after, Kristoffer Ventura rammed in a 25-foot birdie putt in near total darkness to shoot even-par 72. Still on the course are Matthew Wolff at 2-under, Viktor Hovland at even and Zach Bauchou at 5-over.
“This was about as defenseless as you’ll ever see Karsten Creek, and we didn’t really go low to take advantage,” said OSU coach Alan Bratton. “But most of the guys are playing solid and we’re not in bad shape.”
Eckroat said he was as nervous as he’s ever been on the first tee. He three-putted the par-3 11th, then had to make a miraculous recovery from over the green on 12 and another tough par on 13 when his pitch on his third shot fortunately hit the flag. He birdied the par-5 14th with an 18-footer and rolled in another long birdie from just in front of the green on 17, then birdied the par-5 18th and par-5 first to reach 3-under.
The former two-time Class 6A state champion got in trouble with an errant tee shot on the short par-4 sixth hole that required a drop then a pitch out, leading to double bogey.
“I always hit driver there trying to get it down there about 70 yards or so from the hole,” Eckroat said. “If you lay back and hit a full wedge in, that green is so steep that the spin usually takes it back off. I just hit a terrible drive.”
Northwestern counted an eagle and three birdies on 18 to move from 3-under to 8-under.
“We were here for finals in 2011, and we were here for regionals in 2016, so it’s a place we’ve got a lot of experience with,” Inglis said. “It’s simple, but it’s hard. You’ve just got to fight through the day, and I think that’s what the guys did a good job of day. The course allowed for lower scores and we didn’t see Karsten bear its full teeth because there was no wind, they moved some of the tees up and there was rain last night and this morning, so it was plenty soft. It’s never going to get better for scoring at Karsten Creek.”
After overnight and morning rainfall, Karsten Creek was left susceptible to college golf’s best competitors, and several individuals took advantage of the course’s soft conditions.
Northwestern’s Ryan Lumsden was one of those, as he is tied for the lead in the clubhouse after posting a 5-under 67 on Friday. Lumsden tallied five birdies or better in his opening round, with his lone bogey coming at the 459-yard, par-4 eighth hole. He quickly followed that up with a birdie on the 623-yard ninth before posting two more birdies on Nos. 12 and 14.
The junior wrapped up his round with an eagle on the par-5 18th. He was one of two Wildcats, the other being junior Pete Griffith, to close with a three at Karsten Creek’s finishing hole.
“You’re not going to escape this place without struggling at some point,” Inglis said. “The guys did a great job of responding today. Obviously, Ryan Lumsden had a heck of a round. All in all, the way they finished was encouraging. I think they were well ready for the test.”
UNLV senior Shintaro Ban, ranked No. 13 nationally, is tied with Lumsden for the lead in the clubhouse after posting a 5-under 67 to open stroke play on Friday. Ban got off to a blazing start on a damp Karsten Creek, birdieing six of his first nine holes, including picking up a shot at No. 7, 8 and 9 to post a front-nine 31.
The wheels fell off a bit on the back, as Ban dropped two shots to fall back to 3-under for the round. The UNLV senior righted the ship though, notching birdies at No. 14, 17 and 18 to close off an impressive opening round.
“As long as you keep it in the fairways, you know it isn’t going to bounce anywhere crazy,” Ban said. “The greens are holding up nicely. I thought (today) was the perfect opportunity to attack at something I thought I could do after hitting some good tee shots. I just gave myself a lot of good 15 and 20-footers, and a lot of them dropped, surprisingly.”
Ban’s 67 is tied for the third-lowest 18-hole score posted at Karsten Creek during men’s NCAA Championship play. Only John Peterson’s 65 in 2011 and Patrick Nagle’s 66 in 2003 rank above the UNLV senior’s standout round.
“Karsten (Creek) is definitely one of the harder ones, but it suits me well, especially off the tee,” Ban said of the course. “I hit a lot of fairways today, probably only missed two. That helps, obviously, especially with it being wet out there – you never know what kind of lie you’ll get, so hitting the fairways really helped me today.”
Texas Tech’s Ivan Ramirez and Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer, ranked No. 19 nationally, have the best rounds going of players still wrapping up their first round. Both competitors currently sit at 5-under through 12 and 10 holes, respectively.
The teams that have yet to conclude their first rounds will resume play Saturday morning at 7 a.m. CT. Second-round of stroke play at Karsten Creek will begin at 8 a.m. on No. 1 and at 8:22 a.m. on No. 10.
See attached results. Note that full team and player results are available at:
PLAYER LEADERBOARD: http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=player&tid=15139
Championships Schedule of Events:
May 25-30 — 2018 Finals Schedule of Events (All Times Local – Central Time)
Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater, Oklahoma; Oklahoma State University, host
Saturday, May 26
7 a.m. Second-round of stroke play competition
Sunday, May 27
7 a.m. Third-round of stroke play competition
Monday, May 28
3-7 p.m. Live coverage on Golf Channel
7:10 p.m. Individual awards ceremony
7:25 p.m. Quarterfinal Match Play pairings determined
Tuesday, May 29
7 a.m. Match #1 and #2 begin (1st and 10th tees)
7:50 a.m. Match #3 and #4 begin (1st and 10th tees)
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Live coverage (quarterfinals) on Golf Channel
1:30 p.m. Match #5 begins (winners of match #1 and #2)
2:20 p.m. Match #6 begins (winners of match #3 and #4)
3-7 p.m. Live coverage (semifinals) on Golf Channel
7:30 p.m. Semifinalist awards ceremony
7:45 p.m. Championship Match Play pairings determined
Wednesday, May 30
Approx. 2:25 p.m. Championship Match begins (winner Match #5 vs. winner of Match #6)
3-7 p.m. Live coverage on Golf Channel
Following Play Awards ceremony
Tickets: Tickets for day entry or for the session are available to purchase at the Karsten Creek entrance or atokstate.com/ncaagolf.
Pairings: Second-round play will tee-off on Saturday, May 26 at 8 a.m. CT. Pairings attached.
For more men’s golf information and to follow the action throughout, accesshttps://www.ncaa.com/sports/golf-men/d1.