SAN DIEGO, Calif. (May 14, 2015) – Led by juniors Gudmundur Kristjansson (Reykjavik, Iceland) and Adrian Meronk (Wroclaw, Poland), the ETSU men’s golf team sits in second-place following the opening round of the NCAA Regional on Thursday afternoon at The Farms Golf Club in San Diego.
The 39th-ranked Buccaneers carded a 1-over-par 289 and enter Friday’s second round five shots back of leader and No. 14 Oklahoma. ETSU finished the day strong as three of its five golfers birdied the final hole to move into second.
“Overall, our guys did a good job today and it was important to get off to a good start,” said head coach Fred Warren. “The course played hard today. The wind picked up and it started to rain as we finished the round. Gudmundur was solid the entire round and Adrian got going following his eagle on No. 9. Our last hole was a par-5 so it gave us a chance to finish the day strong, and Gudmundur, Adrian and Mateusz took advantage of it by finishing with the birdies. There are storms in the forecast tomorrow, but hopefully we can get the round in.”
ETSU, who was seeded seventh in the 13-team regional, is ahead of five of the top six teams as top seed and third-ranked Arizona State is in ninth-place at 12-over 300. Georgia Tech, the second seed in the regional and No. 10-ranked team nationally, is tied for seventh at 11-over 299 and No. 25 Virginia (fifth seed) is tied for fifth at 9-over 297. Fourth-seeded and 22nd-ranked New Mexico (15-over 303) and sixth seed/No. 29 Georgia (19-over 307) are in 11th and 12th-place after day one.
The top five teams following Saturday’s final round advance to the NCAA Championship, which is held May 29-June 3 at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
Individually, Kristjansson is tied for first after firing a 3-under 69, while Meronk is one shot back at 2-under 70. Kristjansson, a two-time winner this season, totaled five birdies and a pair of bogeys in the opener and is tied with Oklahoma’s Grant Hirschman – who is ranked No. 47 nationally – atop the leaderboard. Kristjansson’s five birdies were tied for the second-most on Thursday as Arizona State’s Jon Rahm led the field with seven, but the second-ranked golfer is tied for 13th at 1-over 73.
“I was very solid from tee to green and hopefully this start gives us confidence for the remainder of the weekend,” said Kristjansson. “I hit 16 greens in regulation and most fairways, but my putting could’ve been better. Overall, I was pleased with my round and I did a good job adjusting my game to the course since you have to use a lot of irons off the tee.”
Meanwhile, Meronk used an eagle – his ninth of the season – on the par-5, 489-yard No. 9 to help turn things around as it moved him to 1-under before making the turn. From there, the 16th-ranked golfer and SoCon Player of the Year posted a birdie and bogey in two of his first three holes on the back nine, before ending the day with a birdie on the par-5, 512-yard No. 18, finishing with his 29th round of par or better this season.
ETSU’s other countable scores included sophomore Mateusz Gradecki’s (Oborniki Slaskie, Poland) 2-over 74 and junior Chris Hickman’s (Centreville, Md.) 4-over 76. Gradecki is tied for tied for 21st and Hickman – playing for the first time since March 9-10 at the General Hackler Championship – is tied for 42nd.
The Bucs are paired with Oklahoma and Wichita State in Friday’s second round and tee off at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).
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