Lake Worth, Fla. – The Stetson men’s golf team struggled with gusty winds of more than 25 miles per hour on Friday in the opening round of play at the Slomin Autism Invitational, hosted by Florida Atlantic University.
Like most of the other players in the 15-team field, the Hatters had trouble controlling distance and accuracy at The Fountains Club North Course. The par 71 layout, covering just 6,876 yards, was made treacherous by the high winds. After an opening round score of 314, the Hatters are in 12th place, five shots behind Murray State (309).
“I am pretty happy with the way we played today considering the conditions,” Hatters coach Larry Watson said. “They really had to grind out there with this wind. Hopefully we will play better tomorrow.”
Every member of the Stetson team had at least one double-bogey during the first round while birdies were few and far between. The only holes on the course that seemed to be easily solved by the players were the par five first and third holes. Both yielded a large number of birdies and a few eagles.
The rest of the course was much tougher, with bogeys outnumbering birdies on every other hole, and with double bogeys outnumbers birdies on several.
Georgia Southern appeared to be the only team in the field unaffected by the wind. The Eagles lead the tournament after opening on Friday with a six-under par score of 278. UCF (284) is in second place, six shots off the lead, followed by Middle Tennessee State (293), Jacksonville State (293) and DePaul (296).
UCF’s Ricardo Gouveia, who entered play ranked 45th in the nation according to Golfstat.com, has a one-shot lead on the individual leader board. His four-under par 67 in the first round has him one stroke in front of Georgia Southern’s Hayden Anderson and three shots in front of a group of players at one-under par.
Freshman Dirk Kuehler led the way for Stetson, which began play on the back nine, by posting a five-over par score of 76 on Friday. He played the back at one over par with two bogeys and a birdie on the par four 17th hole, but had a couple of double bogeys on the front side to complete his round.
Junior Matt Taylor is just one shot behind Kuehler after an opening round score of 77. He had back-to-back double bogeys on his first two holes, but had birdies on 13 and seven to go with an Eagle on the first hole to finish at six over par.
Sophomore Dustin Dingus was the only Hatter without a birdie in the opening round. He was four-over par at the turn after a double on 11 and bogeys on 14 and 18. He followed with another double on the second hole and a bogey on four before a bogey on eight to finish with an eight-over par score of 79.
Freshman Brian Kehoe found his struggles with back-to-back double bogeys on the par four 13th and 14th holes. He rebounded with birdies on the first and second holes, but a triple on the sixth left him with an 11-over par score of 82.
Freshman Zach Stark was three over par after a birdie and three bogeys on the back nine, but he ran into major problems on the front nine after a birdie on the first. He had three more bogeys to go with a double and a quad on five and six to finish with an 11-over par 82.
Senior Tyler White, who is playing this weekend as an individual, made the turn at five over par after three bogeys and a double on the back nine. He birdied the par four second hole before struggling down the stretch with two bogeys and a double to finish at eight-over 79.
Play will continue in the tournament on Saturday with tee times starting at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring for the event is available online at www.GolfStat.com.