HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. — Anthony Maccaglia did not have a particular number in mind when he woke up Tuesday morning.
But 68 will do just fine.
He had little trouble with the 7200-yard, par-72 Las Colinas Course at Mission Inn Resort & Club, finishing his first round at the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Championships with back-to-back birdies and a 4-under-par 68. The total sat atop the leaderboard with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Brad Shigezawa after 18 holes of play in the 72-hole event.
|T1||Anthony Maccaglia||Oglethorpe||68 (-4)|
|T1||Brad Shigezawa||CMS||68 (-4)|
|T3||Andrew Bateman||Methodist||70 (-2)|
|T3||Brian Jaeger||Christopher Newport||70 (-2)|
|T3||Mike Wesko||Methodist||70 (-2)|
“He was already like a senior when he first got (to Oglethorpe),” head coach Jim Owen said. “The way he was playing (during the practice rounds) it is not a huge surprise.”
Maccaglia, in the running for DIII freshman of the year honors with Redlands’ Bobby Holden, got his Tuesday round off with a bang, rolling in a 30-foot putt for birdie to start his round.
“I’ve been playing well this year and this is obviously the biggest tournament so I want to play well,” Maccaglia said, rated among the top 10 in DIII. I got off to a good start. I didn’t want to three-putt (the first hole) and I hit a good putt that went in. I was pretty nervous at the start of the round. Being in the running for national freshman of the year, that was in the back of my mind, so I wanted to play a good round (Tuesday).
“I had one horseshoe on a chip that should have gone in and I left a putt on the lip. It could have easily been 66, but I am not complaining about a 68.”
Maccaglia’s lone blemish came on the par-4 fourth hole when he pulled his approach into a greenside bunker and eventually took bogey. But he came right back with a birdie on par-5 fifth hole and shot 1-under 35 on the outward nine.
The back nine saw nothing but darts. On the difficult and narrow par-5 12th hole — known as “Alligator Alley” — he split the fairway then hit a 3-wood to the fringe. Two putts resulted in a birdie.
“That’s a tough hole,” Maccaglia said. “But I put my second shot about where I was hoping for, and then was able to get up-and-down for the birdie.”
He stuck his approach to eight-feet on No. 17 and No. 18 saw another deadly accurate approach to almost tap-in range.
Maccaglia’s first NCAA round was played with Otterbein’s Ben Adams, who grinded his way to a 76, and St. John Fisher’s Tyler McArdell, who was 3-over after five holes but held it together to shoot 76.
Shigezawa had a round to remember, dropping seven birdies to go with three front-nine bogeys for his 68 on Las Colinas.
Eight players finished under par on Tuesday, two wearing Methodist colors on Las Colinas. Mike Wesko birdied three of his first five holes and finished at 2-under 70, while teammate Andrew Bateman tossed in an eagle on the par-5, fifth, also turning in a 70, along with Christopher Newport’s Brian Jaeger.
Central’s (Iowa) Justin Livingston also eagled No. 5 and shot 1-under 71, as did Oglethorpe’s Hayden Jones and LaGrange’s Cory Howard.
Holden, who teed off about an hour after Maccaglia on Las Colinas, had three bogeys in his first 11 holes but birdied No. 11 and 12 to get back to even-par.
But a bogey on No. 14 and a double bogey on No. 16 sent him back to 3-over. He responded with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 and finished the first day at 1-over.
Illinois Wesleyan’s Dax Reese, who finished ninth at the 2011 D-III Championships, jumped on the birdie train on his final nine on Tuesday, making the turn at 1-over before picking up birdies on five of his first six holes on the back nine. However, bogeys on No. 16 and 17 brought him back to 2-under and a disastrous double bogey on No. 18 sent him to the clubhouse at even par.
“On 16 I just had a loose swing and ended up short-siding myself,” Reese said. “On 17 I was actually trying to hit my driver at the flag but got plugged. My goal was to try and get to 6 (under) and after 16 I still wanted to stay aggressive and birdie the last two.
“It’s not that big of a deal. I will get back out there (Wednesday). I am out here to win so I wasn’t about to play it safe. It’s my last shot at it so I want to give as good a run as I can. I just want to go out and make as many birdies as I can.”
No player broke par on El Campeon on Tuesday, a handful shooting even-par rounds.
Of the pre-tournament favorites, Transylvania’s Justin Tereshko may have had the most difficult trip. Despite an ace on the par-3 15th, playing on El Campeon, came in at 82 with eight bogeys, a double and a triple on his card.