Courtesy of Kent State Sports Information
NCAA Golf Championship Page
Kent State Golf
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. —
Sophomore Corey Conners (Listowel, Ontario) brought his 'A' game to California shooting an opening round 68 at the 2012 NCAA Championship at the famed Riviera Country Club. His -3 score on the par 71 course has him one back of the individual leader and paced the Golden Flashes into a tie for 13th amongs the 30-team field with a +9, 293 team score.
"Corey carried us a little bit today, he has had a great year and had another terrific round today," said Kent State Director of Golf/Head Coach Herb Page, who is coaching in his 14th NCAA Championship for the Golden Flashes.
"A few unforced errors and a couple of three putts didn't allow us to put up the team score we wanted to today, but overall I don't expect to be too far off the number to get into the final eight. It's more about of the number of teams we will be competing against to get there. The course is set up great for anyone who manges their game and chips and putts the ball well."
Conners' 68 is the third lowest individual round by a Kent State player at the NCAA Finals in school history. Its the lowest score since 2001 when Jon Mills carded a 67 in the third round at Duke on the way to a sixth place individual national finish.
Kent State added scores of 74, 75 and 76 from Kyle Kmiecik (Avon, Ohio), Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ontario) and Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ontario) to account for the 293 which has the Golden Flashes only three off the final eight cut line that advance to the match-play bracket on Friday.
The first team off the tee for the 115th running of the Championship this morning, Kent State started strong on No. 1 playing the 503-yard, par 5 hole in -5 after making three birdies and an eagle from junior Kevin Miller (Dover, Ohio). The rest of the front nine did not go nearly as well for the Golden Flashes with the exception of Conners, who managed the course well enough to make the turn at -2 following a birdie on No. 9.
"It was important not to get frustrated out there when things weren't going your way," said Conners. "After coming up empty on a few birdie opportunities early on, I just tried to stay focused on hitting fairways and greens in order to make the game as easy as possibly today."
The back nine proved to be more patient course management for the Golden Flashes’ scoring leader as Conners rolled home a 22-foot birdie putt on No. 13 before closing with a bogey free round. UCLA’s Anton Arboleda shot a -4, 67 in the after to hold the individual lead by one over Conners and Tyler McCumber of Florida. No. 2 ranked Alabama fired a +1, 285 to lead the field.
The infamous 315-yard No. 10 proved to be Kent State's Achilles heel on Tuesday as the five-man line-up combined to shot +6 on the par 4 hole. The Golden Flashes will have their chance for revenge on the hole right out of the gate tomorrow as second round action starts at 12:20 pm (PST) for the Blue and Gold.
"Everyone on the team hit the ball well today, but the greens are a little tricky," said Conners. "We just need to putt the ball and score it a little better tomorrow and we will be right in the mix."