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Dogs dominate on Day One of the Schenkel

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    The Georgia Bulldogs seemed to be the only team able to overcome the elements as they dominated the first two rounds of the Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational on Saturday at the Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro.
    Although the scores remained fairly tight after the first round, the Bulldogs were the only team able to pencil in under par, finishing the first 18 holes at one under as a team. Georgia Southern finished the first round 15 strokes behind the leaders, tied for 14th overall with UNC. Auburn (+1), Florida (+2) and Alabama (+4) were all able to stay within five strokes of UGA.  
    Individual first-round leaders were Florida’s Billy Horschel and Tim McKenny — both shooting a four-under 68 — followed by Chris Kirk and Brian Harman of Georgia, Martin Piller of Texas A&M and Jamie Bowen of Auburn tied for second (-2, 70). The top Eagle out of the first 18 holes was Bryan Jones, who shot a three-over 75. Wind and cold weather played a part in the first two rounds, and most players were having trouble adjusting throughout the day.
    “The wind was defiantly tricky out there today,” said Georgia Southern coach Larry Mays. “It swirled through those pine trees. You could have one guy playing for another team hitting in front of you with one iron, then the wind comes straight back at you and you need two more clubs than he just hit to get to the same spot… On some holes, pulling the right club was really tough.”
    The windy conditions did not appear to affect the Bulldogs as they added to their first round lead and finished 11 strokes under par — 14 strokes ahead of second place South Carolina. No other team was able to finish under par, but there were 10 players able to do so, with Bulldog Chris Kirk leading the pack, finishing up at six under.
    “We played pretty well considering the elements and the way the wind was blowing,” said Bulldog coach Chris Haack. “I would say that we’ll sleep well tonight. This day wore us out — it was a long day — but we’ll go home very satisfied with the way we played.”
    Mays was not happy with the mistakes made by his team on Saturday, but knows that with most of the teams so evenly matched, his Eagles can gain a lot of ground in today’s final round.
    “We’ve got to come out a little smarter and eliminate our big mistakes,” said Mays. “When we do get in trouble, let’s take a bogey and move on to the next hole… I told them that they’ve got to go home, look in the mirror and believe in themselves. We still have some confidence issues — some ‘I hope so’ swings and putting strokes rather then ‘I know so’ putting strokes and shots — we’ve just got to come out tomorrow and play a great round.”
    The tournament concludes with the final round this morning at 8 a.m.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.
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