ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia Golf Course showed its teeth on Monday in windy and tough scoring conditions, but second-seeded Duke survived the opening round and is in the hunt at the NCAA Athens Regional with 36 holes to play.
No teams finished Monday’s opening 18 holes in red figures and the host and third-seeded Bulldogs top the team standings at even par. Top-seeded Vanderbilt is two strokes back at two-over, with the Blue Devils five off the pace at five-over par. Tennessee (+8), Liberty (+10) and Kentucky (+10) round out the top half of a tightly-packed leaderboard.
“It was a great team round,” said head coach Jamie Green. “It’s not the easiest course to make a lot of birdies. There are a lot of big slopes out there, and sometimes you’ll hit a really solid golf shot and to get out of there with a two-putt is a really good score.”
Duke is the only team of the 13 in the regional with all five golfers in the top 25 after the opening round. Senior Alex Smalley, junior Chandler Eaton and sophomore Adrien Pendaries each posted one-over 72 and are tied for 12th, while sophomore Evan Katz and junior Steven DiLisio are each one stroke back and tied for 21st.
“Our guys battled today,” said Green. “It wasn’t like we had a struggle. Our guys were right there at one- and two-over, and in a regional, it’s just kind of survive and advance. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, and it should be a fun golf course to play two more days because the weather looks awesome.”
Pendaries finished his round on a high note, carding a one-under 35 on the back nine and playing the final seven holes in two-under par. The All-ACC sophomore from France birdied the par-4 14th and the par-3 16th to join a group of nine golfers at one-over par.
After nine pars on the opening nine holes, Eaton survived an up and down back nine and drained a birdie on the par-four 18th to also post an opening-round 72. Smalley countered three bogeys with birdies on the par-5 seventh and par-4 10th to join the pack at one-over.
Memphis’ Brad Bowen is the outright leader after 18 holes at three-under 68. Three golfers shot two-under, two more shot one-under and five others posted even-par on Monday.
Tuesday’s second round is underway at 7:30 a.m. ET with Duke, Vanderbilt and Georgia the first teams on the course. The low five teams after the 54-hole regional will advance to the NCAA Championship next week at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
t12. Alex Smalley (72, +1)
t12. Chandler Eaton (72, +1)
t12. Adrien Pendaries (72, +1)
t21. Evan Katz (73, +2)
t21. Steven DiLisio (73, +2)
1. Georgia (284, E)
2. Vanderbilt (296, +2)
3. Duke (289, +5)
4. Tennessee (290, +6)
5. Memphis (292, +8)
t6. Liberty (294, +10)
t6. Kentucky (294, +10)
8. Nevada (296, +12)
9. SMU (297, +13)
10. Campbell (300, +16)
11. UNCW (301, +17)
12. Alabama (302, +18)
13. Princeton (309, +25)