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Ole Miss sixth, MSU ninth at Bryan Regional

 

From Special Reports

 

 

BRYAN, Texas -- The Ole Miss and Mississippi State men's golf teams trail leader Texas A&M after the first round Monday of the Bryan Regional at the par-72, 7,146-yard Traditions Club. 

 

Texas A&M carded a 9-under 279 and lead second-place Baylor (282) by three shots and third-place Clemson (283) by four. 

 

Ole Miss (294) is 15 shots back. 

 

Garrett Johnson celebrated his birthday with a strong round to open NCAA regional play. The sophomore shot a 1-under 35 on the front nine to finish his day with a 1-over-73 through opening-round to lead MSU to a ninth-place finish (300, +12). 

 

Johnson's front-side performance was part of a 1-over-par rally by MDSU for its final nine holes after shooting 11-over on the back nine to start the opening round. 

 

"I came out with a lot of swag and was ready to go for this round," Johnson said. "I got off to a scratchy start, but I knew that if I kept plugging along and giving myself opportunities that good things were going to happen." 

 

MSU improved from the bottom of the leaderboard to ninth through the day. It will need to make up a seven-stroke gap between itself and fifth place -- the minimum needed to advance to the championship round -- within the next two days. 

 

All five MSU players were better on the front nine. Senior Taylor Bibbs played even after the turn to finish with a 75 and a share of 43rd. 

 

Sophomore Peng Pichaikool and senior Taylor Grant contributed 1-over 37s on the front side for a round total of 4-over 76s, good for a tie for 49th. 

 

Freshman Cameron Clarke finished at 6-over for a share of 62nd. 

 

Texas A&M's Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith sit atop the player leaderboard. 

 

No. 6 seeded Ole Miss used a 3-under 69 from reigning national champion Braden Thornberry to put itself in position to earn a team qualifying berth. 

 

Thornberry used five birdies to counter a pair of bogeys for his round of 69, just one off the lead. The Ben Hogan Award finalist birdied his first two holes of the day and ended his round with a 20-foot birdie on the par-4 ninth. 

 

Starting on the back nine, Ole Miss jumped into the top three early thanks to birdies from Thornberry, Josh Seiple, and Cecil Wegener. Beginning his NCAA title defense, Thornberry rolled back-to-back birdie putts inside 15 feet to jump off to a fast start. Wegener, a freshman, birded his first hole of NCAA Regional play. Tackling the par-3 11th, Seiple made a birdie and cruised to 1-under through four holes. While Thornberry and Wegener took advantage of No. 15 with birdies on the par 5, the Rebels struggled through Nos. 14-18. Ole Miss made nine bogeys and one double bogey as a team during the five-hole stretch, dropping all the way down to 11th place in the 13-team field. 

 

The Rebels flipped the switch at the turn. Seiple and Briggs birdied No. 1, their 10th hole of the day, to gather some momentum and confidence. Seiple added another birdie on the par-5 fifth, dropping a downhill bomb from the fringe. He shot a 35 (-1) on his last nine holes to post a 74 (+2), the second-best score on the team. For Briggs, it was the first of three birdies over the next six holes. 

 

The Covington, Louisiana, native started off rocky with a pair of double bogeys, but he played the final 16 holes at 1-under. Firing a 2-under 34 coming in, he ended the round with a 75 (+3). Briggs played the par 4s 2-under for the day, which is tied for the best par-4 scoring in the field. 

 

Wegener birdied three of the four par 5s, joining Thornberry for the lead in that category, to help combat two double bogeys en route to a 76 (+4). After making birdie on his first hole of the day, he added another on his 17th hole before a par on the last concluded his NCAA Regional debut. 

 

"I'm really proud of the way that our guys fought on the back nine today," Ole Miss coach Chris Malloy said. "We had it going in the wrong direction through 10 holes and really dug deep to find a way to hold it together. I'm confident that this group will bounce back tomorrow and play their best golf of the week over the final two days." 

 

 

 

Alabama has two in top 10 at Stockton Regional 

 

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Alabama senior Jonathan Hardee and freshman Davis Shore are among the top-10 individuals after Monday's opening round of the NCAA Stockton Regional at the par 72, 7,239-yard Reserve at Spanos Park layout. 

 

As a team, Alabama ended the round in third overall following a score of 6-under par 282 -- one of only five teams that shot below par on the day. 

 

Alabama shot +7 on the front nine, collecting 11 bogeys and four birdies. However, the five Alabama players carded a -10 on the back nine, with 16 birdies and six bogeys. 

 

"Getting off to a solid start in the first round at an NCAA Regional is pivotal, and at the end of the day, that's what we did," Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. "I thought we did a great job on the back nine and made a lot of birdies. I'm proud of how we responded after a somewhat slow start and it turned the momentum around in our favor. There's not a lot of movement when you get to regionals, so we just need to do this same thing each day we are out here." 

 

Hardee led the charge on the back nine after stringing together five birdies in a six-hole span. After opening with a pair of birdies and bogeys on the front nine to make the turn at even par, the Greer, South Carolina, native finished with five birdies and a bogey in the final nine holes. His opening round of 4-under par 68 puts him in a fifth-place tie entering the second round. 

 

Shore continued his solid play as of late, finishing the day at 3-under 69. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native had just one bogey, the fewest by any Tide golfer, to go along with four birdies, and is in a tie for eighth overall after 18 holes. 

 

Junior Davis Riley started his round at 2-over par through the first 10 holes, but went 2-under over his last eight to end the day with an even par 72. He is in a tie for 27th, one shot ahead of freshman Wilson Furr, who finished with a 1-over 73. 

 

Senior Lee Hodges, who entered the regional ranked No. 12 in the nation, also had a slow start by going 5-over par through the first 10 holes. However, he finished by carding three birdies and just one bogey over the final eight holes to finish in a tie for 52nd at 3-over par 75. 

 

Unranked Iowa State carded a 10-under par 278 and holds a three-stroke lead over No. 43 Kansas (281). TCU, ranked No. 31 in the nation, trails Alabama by one stroke and is in fourth with a 5-under 283, while No. 18 Stanford rounds out the top five with a 285. 

 

The top five teams and the top individual finisher not on an advancing team will move on to the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship on May 25-30 at the Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

 

 

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