Eighteen players broke par on Tuesday with three joining leader James White of Georgia Tech in the 60s – Texas A&M’s Cameron Peck (68), Augusta State’s Patrick Reed (69) and San Diego State’s JJ Spaun (69).
Peck, a sophomore, had just one bogey (the difficult 17th). Reed and Spaun each had six birdies.
Georgia senior Harris English had it to 6-under through 11 holes but was 4-over on his final eight holes.
“I hit the ball well. I thought I putted well,” said Reed. “I made a couple mistakes out there, careless mistakes from a distance I should really put it on the green. But I can’t complain about shooting 69. Anything under par on this course is phenomenal. It is a great golf course. You have to stay patient because it is going to be a long week.
“As you can tell, even with the weather like this, there aren’t a lot of low numbers.”
Alabama’s Cory Whitsett has played Karsten Creek at least “16 or 17 times” from junior tournaments to recruiting trips to college events. On Tuesday he eagled the par-5 ninth hole for the first time.
“I’ve played it a couple times when it’s wet and into the wind,” said Whitsett, a freshman from Houston. “I had like 290 to the hole [Tuesday]. I killed my drive and turned a hybrid over. It’s the first eagle I’ve made here. It was actually the only putt I made all day.”
Whitsett shot 1-over 73.
Posting a Number
Arkansas’ Austin Cook was the clubhouse leader after the first set of tee times. Cook, a sophomore, shot 2-under 70, negotiating the difficult back nine in 2-under with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 17 and 18. The afternoon provided a number of solid rounds, however, with Cook in a tie for fifth by the time play was through.
Ohio State posted a 3-over 291 and led heading into the afternoon tee times. The Buckeyes’ senior trio of Bo Hoag, Brad Smith and Michael Cress were a combined 1-over on Day 1 with Hoag leading the way at 1-under 71.
In its first round of golf in the NCAA finals, Kennesaw State shot a respectable 7-over 295 with Jeff Karlsson shooting even-par. Karlsson, a Swede, had a cool 14 pars. KSU is tied for 10th heading into Day 2.
The Snowball Effect
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Southern California’s Sam Smith opened his round Tuesday morning with back-to-back birdies. However, Smith took a triple-bogey-6 on the third in front of a birdie on the fourth for an unlikely round to an even-par start through four holes. A 9 on the par-4 fifth, another triple bogey on the seventh, and double-bogeys on the eighth and ninth sent Smith to 12-over through eight holes. His back nine started with an 8 on the par-4 10th. Smith, a sophomore an All-Pac 10 honorable mention selection, finished Day 1 at 90 with just five pars on the card.
Oklahoma’s Ben Klaus, a native of Edmond, Okla., had similar issues on the back nine, carding six bogeys and two double bogeys on his way to a 46. Klaus joined Smith and Ohio State’s Dan Charen in shooting 90.
The University of Oklahoma, rivals to host Oklahoma State, did not get off to the best of starts on Tuesday. Ryan Sirman birdied No. 16 and eagled No. 18 to shoot 2-under through his first nine. But the other four Sooners were a combined 25-over par. Sirman and Abraham Ancer were the only OU players to break 80 on Day 1, Sirman shooting 1-under 71 for a team that shot 25-over 313.
Oklahoma State freshman Talor Gooch attended Midwest City Carl Albert High barely an hour from Stillwater. He’s seen the wind blow – like Monday – and a day later barely offer a breeze. In his first round of high-stress, championship-level golf, Gooch, one of two Oklahomans on the Cowboys’ roster, shot 72.
“It was awesome,” said Gooch. “These are the types of days you dream about. We knew there was going to be a good crowd. It was really almost a blackout on that first tee. I was so nervous. I asked Sean [Einhaus] and he told me he couldn’t feel his hands.
“It took a few shots to shake off the nerves.”
Said OSU head coach Mike McGraw “He handled it pretty well. He told me on that first tee that he couldn’t believe how great this atmosphere was. If he was nervous it didn’t show. He was charged up and ready to play.”