Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
TEXARKANA – The second seeded UTEP men’s golf team opened the Conference USA Men’s Golf Championship with a bang, posting 1-under 287 with a field-leading 17 birdies for a second place spot, four strokes behind leader North Texas. Competition at the Texarkana Country Club (par 72/6,969 yards) will resume tomorrow, April 24, with the Miners teeing off on hole one at 9:20 a.m. CT alongside Charlotte and North Texas.
Due to forecasted inclement weather on Wednesday, the tournament is now scheduled to conclude on Tuesday.
All teams will play their final two rounds tomorrow, Monday, April 24, with tee times starting at 8 a.m. CT. Following the two rounds of stroke play to determine the individual medalist, the four best teams will advance to match play on Tuesday, April 25. The first round of match play tees off at 7:30 a.m. CT concluding with the second round at 12:30 p.m. CT to determine the 2017 Conference USA Men’s Golf Champion.
“We had a nice start to the tournament today,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “North Texas shot five-under, they played a great round and deserve the lead right now, but we’ve got two more rounds of stroke play to go and I think we have plenty of time to catch up. We’re in for a really big test and I’m pleased we got off on the right foot in the first round.”
With his short game on point, sophomore Andreas Sorensen led the Miners’ charge on day one, firing a round of 70 while collecting four birdies to tie for fifth place. The sophomore had back to back birdies on holes No. 7 and No. 8 and scored two more on holes No. 12 and No. 16, while bogeying only twice. Sorensen’s strong play puts him three strokes behind tourney leader Seth Gandy of Charlotte, who shot five-under 67.
Frederik Dreier was the only other Miner to shoot under par on the difficult course, shooting 71 to land in the individual top-10 with a share of seventh. Dreier, ranked No. 97 in Golfstat, pared 11 times and birdied on holes No. 1, No. 3, No. 8, No. 12. The senior had three bogeys.
Both Charles Corner and Aaron Terrazas shot 73 to finish just outside of the top-10 in a tie for 13th. Corner had consecutive birdies on holes No. 7 and No. 8 and added one more on hole No. 12, while Terrazas collected four birdies on holes No. 1, No. 7, No. 12, and No. 16 and nine pars.
Junior Nicklas Pihl’s score kept all the Miners in the top 50. Pihl shot a round of 79 to sit in a seven-way tie for 50th, scoring two birdies and bogeying three times.
The team’s round of 287 was its sixth-best opening round this season, though on a much more difficult course. The Miners shot an opening round of 302 at the C-USA tournament at the Texarkana Country Club last year.
“The golf course if difficult, the green was firm,” Lieberwirth said. “It was much warmer than yesterday. The wind wasn’t as severe as yesterday, but there’s a lot of swirls that you feel on the ground. That made club selection difficult, and add that to the firmness of the greens, it was difficult to hit greens in regulation. I thought we did a reasonably good job of that [hitting greens] and I think we also did a good job of getting it up and down when we had the opportunity to.
“Even one-under par for us out here on this course is a good score. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be a little bit better as far as lighter winds, so I would expect the lower scores to be a little bit more possible.”
The final two rounds of stroke play begin tomorrow at 8 a.m. CT with Rice, UTSA and WKU starting on hole 10 while play on hole one begins concurrently with Marshall and Southern Miss. UAB and Middle Tennessee play as a twosome from the first hole at 8:40 a.m. CT, while Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion will go off from the back nine at 8:50 a.m. CT.
Live stats are available at Golfstat.com.