Brightwell leads, but Sooners in ninth after first round in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Jonathan Brightwell matched his season-low round of 66 (-6) on Monday to claim the 18-hole lead at the NCAA Albuquerque Regional. The redshirt senior opened the day with five straight birdies and added three more later in the round to lead No. 1 Oklahoma in the first round of the 54-hole regional at the par-72 UNM Championship Course.

“I had a great start today and that kind of set the tone,” Brightwell said. “I got hot with the putter and made a couple of 20-footers early and hit some really quality shots on the par-five and short par-four, and it just happened to be five in a row. The rest of the day it was just about keeping the ball in front of me and I didn’t feel like I had to stress over too much. It was just a quality day.”

Brightwell’s round paced the Sooners, who sit in a tie for ninth after firing a 1-over 289 and sit four shots back of fifth-place. Following 54 holes of play, the top-five teams and low individual on a non-qualifying team will advance to the NCAA Championship.

“We didn’t play very well today,” head coach Ryan Hybl said. “We didn’t go score on the easy holes  – the four par-fives and the easy par-four specifically, we just didn’t make enough birdies on those holes. If we had, it could’ve righted a lot of the wrong, but we didn’t. We still have a lot of golf left, and that’s what I told our team.”

Brightwell (1st, -6) posted a field-high eight birdies in his round and just a pair of bogeys to take the lead. His score of 66 tied himself for the second-lowest round among all Sooners this season and helped keep OU in the thick of the leaderboard all day.

“I was with him all day and he played a great round of golf,” Hybl said on Brightwell. “He started with six birdies on his first seven holes in the toughest conditions of the day. If you talk to him, I’m sure he’ll say that he left some out there, but he played great. He putted the ball really well which is a big confidence boost moving forward for him the rest of this week.”

The Charlotte, N.C., product amassed three collegiate wins before transferring to Oklahoma in the summer of 2020 and has collected six top-10 finishes in his lone season as a Sooner.

“At the end of the day, I start over tomorrow and today is done with,” Brightwell said. “When I step up to that tee tomorrow I’ll be even-par, so I just have to keep my head down and keep doing the right things. There are some holes that are gettable out here, but you’ve got to be really disciplined and then tackle the tough ones.”

Junior Logan McAllister joined Brightwell inside the top 10 after closing his round with eight pars and two birdies to finish with a 2-under 70, tied for ninth. The Oklahoma City native has been one of the nation’s best golfers this season, tallying a pair of runner-up finishes at the George Hannon Collegiate and Calusa Cup, paired with a fall win at the Colonial Big 12 Preview.

Redshirt senior Garett Reband closed his opening round with a bang, collecting two birdies to move back into a tie for 57th at 4-over.

Quade Cummins (T65, +5) owns a share of 65th after firing a birdie-free round. The All-American will look to bounce back on Tuesday and Wednesday and notch the 31st top-20 finish of his career.

Rounding out the Oklahoma lineup was Patrick Welch, who carded an 8-over-par round to open the regional.

The Sooners will seek to climb the leaderboard into a coveted top-five spot on Tuesday when they tee off at 8:55 MDT with Oakland and San Diego. Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.

” I believe in our guys and they work they’ve put in and what they’ve got going on,” Hybl added. “We’ve got to step up to the tee tomorrow with confidence, go have fun and get after it. If we take care of business on those par-fives and the drivable par-four then that alone puts you back in the game.”

Spectators are permitted based on local/state guidelines, which are subject to change. It is requested that spectators wear masks and follow physical distancing protocols, including remaining at least 15 yards away from student-athletes, coaches and other team personnel. Spectators must also keep distanced from tee boxes and greens. The event is free of charge.

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Ken MacLeod

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