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Auburn leads, Eagles struggle

Auburn leads, Eagles struggle

Auburn leads, Eagles struggle

Georgia Southern's Matt Deal tries a ...

Auburn picked up right where it left off.
    The Tigers stormed back from seven strokes back on the final day to win the 2010 Schenkel Invitatonal at Forest Heights Country Club, and Friday, opened the 2011 event with a 9-under 279 to take a three-stroke lead over second place Florida in the first round.
    Georgia Southern, which is hosting the event, got three solid rounds and a tough one, finishing in the middle of the pack in 10th place, five strokes behind North Carolina and N.C. State.
    “Like any other golf tournament, especially with a good field, you need four good scores,” said GSU coach Larry Mays. “We got three solid scores – a 72, 73 and 74 which is kind of what you want – but we just needed that fourth score to go with it. Any time you’re counting a 78, you’re not where you want to be.”
    Florian Sander led the Eagles, shooting par with three birdies and three bogies.
    “I started with a bogie,” Sander said, “then tried to take everything shot by shot, tried to look at the whole picture. I made two good birdies on the back, then tried to improve on the front because it’s usually easier. But it didn’t work out that good.”
    Thomas Sharkey and Matt Deal shot a 1-over, 73 and 2-over, 74 respectively, and Jake Ware and Logan Blondell each ran into trouble, each carding 78.
    Florida’s Bank Vongvanij leads all players after shooting a 6-under, 66.
    “I’d love to get some guys under par on our home course,” said Mays. “We’re capable of that. Florian, Thomas and Matt played pretty solid all day, a couple birdies and a couple bogies, nothing too out of the ordinary.”
    Sander expects a better round out of the Eagles today, as they will tee off at the more-difficult back nine to start round two.
    “What you saw out there today,” he said, “three or four under par, it’s possible.
    “If you can get the back nine behind you, on the front nine you can score pretty good.
    Mays has taken a more hands-off approach than usual with the Eagles, letting them play the course they’re most familiar with.
    “Every kid on our team,” Mays said, “even the freshmen, has played this course 25-30 times. I try to treat it as more, ‘Hey, go have fun. Play your game. You play here every day, so go get it done. They don’t really need us coaching them too much on our home golf course.”
    Round 2 action tees off at 9 a.m.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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