May 27, 2016

Eugene, Ore. – The No. 23 Virginia men’s golf team opened play at the NCAA Championships Friday in Eugene, Ore. Playing in the morning wave of teams, the Cavaliers shot 12-over 292 at the par-70 Eugene Country Club to finish the first round tied for 24th place with top-ranked Stanford.

No. 21 Arkansas and No. 44 TCU shared the first-round lead at 2-over 282.

Virginia was led by a pair of 2-over scores from junior Derek Bard (New Hartford, N.Y.) and sophomore Danny Walker (Bradenton, Fla.). Junior Jimmy Stanger (Tampa, Fla.) and freshman Thomas Walsh (High Point, N.C.) both shot 4-over 74 to round out UVA’s four counting players. Freshman Ashton Poole (Charlotte, N.C.) posted a score of 78.

Bard and Walker finished the opening round tied for 52nd place while Stanger and Walsh were 87th. Poole ended the day in 145h place.

Three players shared the lead after the opening round. Sand Diego State’s Nahum Mendoza, South Carolina’s Will Starke and Vanderbilt’s Theo Humphrey all shot 3-under 67.

The Eugene Country Club, with its tight fairways and towering trees, proved to be a good test of golf for a championship event. Only 15 players in the 156-player field managed to break par. The 30-team field is packed in the middle. Only six strokes separate 10th and 26th place.

The NCAA held its women’s championship at the same site last week, but the course played at its traditional par-72. The competition committee converted the par-5 seventh and 17 holes into par-4s for the men to set par at 70. At the conclusion of the first round, those two holes were ranked first and second in terms of score against par.

Starting on the back nine first, the Cavaliers could not get any early momentum. UVA managed just one birdie, by Bard on the par-3 11th hole, over their first four holes. The back nine, which plays at par 34, features three par-3 holes over a short six-hole stretch.

“We didn’t play the par threes very well,” said Virginia coach Bowen Sargent. “We hit 11 with a tough pin right off the start and then 14 and 16 kind of jumped up and bit us.”

UVA’s four scoring players combined to play those three holes at 8-over par. The 16th hole saw the Hoos four counting players post two bogeys and two double bogeys.

“Starting early, and making a lot of iron swings initially, is hard,” Sargent said. “When you play the other side (front nine) first, you kind of work your way into the round, hitting drivers and three woods. Starting on the other side you get hit with three par-threes really quickly. We just have to do a better job of managing that.”

Virginia managed to close with a pair of birdies by Walker and Walsh on the short par-4, 349-yard eighth hole. The entire team made par on their 18th hole. All four counting players had to count a double-bogey on their scorecard.

“The toughest round is always the first round,” Sargent said. “You’re trying to make adjustments and trying to feel the golf course out; the greens the rough, everything. Hopefully that was our bad round and the next two days we have to be better.”

One area the Cavaliers excelled at was the two par-5 holes. UVA played them at 7-under par, the best of any team in the field.

The Cavaliers second round will start Saturday at 1:15 p.m. PT. The 30-team field will be trimmed to 15 teams and top nine individuals not on those teams following Sunday’s third round of competition. After the medal play concludes with 72 holes and the individual champion is crowned, the top eight teams will advance to match play.

NCAA Championships
Eugene Country Club
Eugene, Ore.
Par-70, 7,014 yards
First Round Results

Team Results  1. Arkansas        282 1. TCU             282 3. San Diego State 283 3. USC             283 3. Vanderbilt      283 6. Oklahoma State  285 6. Florida State   285 8. LSU             286 8. Florida         28610. South Carolina  28710. California      28712. Texas           28912. Kentucky        28912. Wake Forest     28915. Illinois        29015. Alabama         29015. Oklahoma        29015. Arizona State   29019. Louisville      29119. Oregon          29119. South Florida   29119. Georgia         29119. Clemson         29124. Stanford        29224. Virginia        29226. Baylor          29327. Auburn          29427. UAB             29429. Houston         29630. Purdue          299
Individual Leaders1. Nahum Mendoza, San Diego State 671. Will Starke, South Carolina 671. Theo Humphrey, Vanderbilt 67
Virginia Results 52. Danny Walker 72 52. Derek Bard 72 87. Jimmy Stanger 74 87. Thomas Walsh 74145. Ashton Poole 78=""http:>=""http:>="http:>