ALPHARETTA, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2014) – Senior Rhys Pugh (Pontypridd, Wales) paced the Buccaneers by firing a 4-under-par 68 and the 24th-ranked ETSU men's golf team is tied for fifth following the first round of the U.S. Collegiate Championship, which was held Friday at the Golf Club of Georgia – Lakeside Course.
ETSU, who fired a 2-under par 286, sits 14 shots back of team leader and No. 25 Virginia, while Pugh is tied for sixth and is five strokes off the lead. Pugh finished strong as he played the final 13 holes at 5-under and collected all six of his birdies during the stretch. The six birdies were tied for the fourth-most in the opening round.
“I was pleased with my round today,” said Pugh, who finished in the top-10 at last year’s U.S. Collegiate Championship. “I really like this golf course. It’s one of the best tournaments and courses we play at. Today, I was strong off the tee and kept my shots in the fairway. I also had few solid wedge shots on No. 5, 16, and 18, and was able to tap in for birdie on those holes.”
As Virginia holds a six-shot lead over No. 9 Texas for the team lead, the Cavaliers also have the top individual spot as Denny McCarthy – who is ranked 17th in the World Amateur Rankings – carded a 9-under-par 63. McCarthy has a three-stroke lead over teammate Derek Bard and Stanford’s Maverick McNealy. McNealy is the No. 2 golfer in the Golfweek rankings.
Junior Adrian Meronk (Wroclaw, Poland) posted a 72, while junior Chris Hickman (Centreville, Md.) and sophomore Mateusz Gradecki (Oborniki Śląskie, Poland) both registered 73s in first round play for the Blue and Gold. Meronk was 2-over following his first nine holes, but the 20th-ranked golfer stepped up after the turn and registered a pair of birdies to finish tied for 24th at even-par. Hickman picked up birdies on No. 9 and No. 18, and Gradecki posted three birdies in his final 13 holes after carding a pair of double bogeys in the first five. Both Hickman and Gradecki are tied for 31st.
“We started on the back nine today and got off to a slow start, but we were able to pick up our play once we made the turn,” said head coach Fred Warren. “Overall, the guys played well. Adrian stayed patient and was able to come back to finish even-par and Rhys was solid today. This tournament has a major championship feel as it’s a tough course and features a great field, so it’s a good test for our guys. We are looking forward to going out tomorrow and turning in a strong round.”
The tournament, which is often referred to “The Masters of College Golf,” features 10 teams ranked in the top 25. ETSU, who is tied with No. 8 Auburn, sits ahead of No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Wake Forest, No. 13 Georgia Tech, and No. 20 Washington.
Second round play begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, while the Bucs tee off at 9:50 a.m. from No. 1. ETSU is paired with Stanford and Auburn.
Live scoring for all three rounds will be available on Golfstat and on the USCC website. Recaps will be available for all three days on ETSUBucs.com. Twitter updates can be accessed by following @ETSUAthletics.
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For more information on Buccaneer men’s golf, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s golf page.