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Rick Nixon | | May 25, 2018

Northwestern breaks record on first day of men's champ

  The Wildcats shot a course-record 8-under 280 on the first day.

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,” Northwestern coach David Inglis said. “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, with first-round play called to a halt with several 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.

"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."

Behind Northwestern, there is a mass of Big 12 programs, as No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 13 Texas Tech and No. 15 Texas make up the remainder of the top five. All four of those schools were not able to complete their first round, however, as the opening day of play in Stillwater was halted due to darkness at 8:38 p.m. CT.

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.

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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.

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