Braselton, Ga. – The Stetson men’s golf team got off to a slow start on Monday in the opening round of play at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, but built some confidence as the day went on.
The Hatters are in eighth place in the 10-team tournament at The Legends at Chateau Elan near Atlanta, but are just four shots out of sixth and eight out of fifth.
“I am a little more excited about our play today after seeing how some of the other teams struggled on the same holes we struggled on,” Stetson coach Bob Weickel said. “We started on the back nine and were 13-over at the turn. We played a lot better on the front side and were able to make up some ground.”
The Hatters were six over on the front side of the course, which was fifth among all teams, leaving Stetson within four shots of second place on that side of the course.
North Florida (287) had no problems on either side of the course and finished the first day of play at one-under par, one shot ahead of East Tennessee State (288). Kennesaw State (291) is third at three-over par, followed by Florida Gulf Coast (292) at four over.
Behind the Eagles, there is a seven stroke drop back to USC Upstate (299) in fifth place. With an opening day 307, the Hatters are eight shots behind the Spartans.
“We played so much better on the front side and I hope that gives our guys come confidence going into tomorrow,” Weickel said. “If we can have one or two guys pick up the pace tomorrow, we will have a chance to really move up the leaderboard.”
The Hatters were led in the opening round by senior Sam Ryder who finished the day with a two-over par score of 74. After a bogey on his first hole of the day, No. 10, Ryder had birdies on 13 and 14 before carding bogeys on 15 and 17 to go out at one-over.
The senior hit another rough patch with bogey on holes 4 and 5 before closing his round with a birdie on No. 9.
“Sam played pretty well, but he missed some opportunities at birdies that could have made a big difference for him,” Weickel said. “He is not too far behind and has a chance to get up among the leaders with a good round tomorrow.”
Ryder is just six shots behind tournament co-leaders Sean Dale of North Florida and Rhys Enoch of East Tennessee State. Both players finished the day with four-under par scores of 68. Five other players finished the opening round under par and 18 players are within six shots of the lead.
In addition to Ryder, the Hatters got opening round scores of 77 from both senior Andrew Schiano and sophomore Tyler White. Schiano had the individual highlight of the day for the Hatters with an Eagle on the par 5 fifth hole. His was one of just two Eagles on the day.
Senior Micah Jacobsen in tied for 37th after an opening round 79 and freshman Matt Taylor is tied for 48th after an 83 on Monday.
The Hatters will again begin play on the back nine for Tuesday’s round and will be paired with players from Jacksonville and Mercer with tee times starting at 8:45 a.m. Live scoring updates are available online throughout the tournament at Golfstat.com.