TUCSON, Ariz. -- TCU, led by an impressive back-nine effort by senior Johan de Beer, opened the 2012 Mountain West Championship on Friday with a strong Round 1 performance at OMNI Tucson National Resort.

The Horned Frogs will enter Round 2 in third place on the team leaderboard at -2 overall, only two strokes off the pace set by tournament leader San Diego State (-4). The winner of this weekend’s MW Championship earns an automatic bid to NCAA Regionals. TCU is aiming for its second Mountain West Championship and its 23rd consecutive trip to NCAA Regionals.

De Beer continued his terrific spring season on Friday, firing a 4-under par 67 to grab a share of second place entering Round 2. He trails only Colorado State’s Zahkai Brown, who sits at -5 following an opening-round 66. After totaling a 1-over 36 on the front nine, de Beer quickly reversed his fortunes on the Catalina Course’s back half. He played the next six holes at -5, including an eagle-3 on hole No. 10, to finish with a 5-under 31 on the back nine.

The opening-round success for de Beer continues a strong trend for the Pretoria, South Africa, native during his final TCU campaign. He has now opened six of the last seven tournaments by shooting below par, including five sub-70 rounds, while he has lowered his overall stroke average this spring to a team-best 70.4 in 22 rounds. The spring performance has helped de Beer grab the No. 51 overall national ranking entering the weekend according to Golfweek.

Not far behind de Beer is TCU freshman sensation Julien Brun, the top-ranked golfer in the field and the conference’s leader in overall season stroke average. Brun fired a 1-under 70 Friday and sits in an eight-way tie for fifth place. The native of Antibes, France, who has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious Ben Hogan Award presented to the nation’s top collegiate golfer, is looking for his fourth individual victory of the season.

Also contributing to TCU’s Round 1 total was junior Daniel Jennevret, who sits in a tie for 15th place at +1 after carding a score of 72. Sophomore Ian Phillips and freshman Thomas Mantovanini also played well on the opening day, both shooting 73 to claim a share of 20th place.