Ryan Zabroske’s day started off a little different than the rest of the Georgia Southern Eagles. It could be said that it ended that way, too.
While Zabroske was busy dealing with a broken driver, the Eagles were building a five-stroke, eight-under lead on the front nine of the 31st Annual Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club. At the end of the day, Zabroske finished tied for the best score on the team, while as a group, a rough back nine sent GSU to the middle of the pack.
“Spence (Fulford) bogies the last two holes and shoots a 74, Joe (Monte) doubles 17 and shoots 74 and Florian (Sander) triples 18 and shoots 74,” said GSU coach Larry Mays. “They were all right there. They were all playing well, and it was just some bad golf on the last couple of holes. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so we’ll see what kind of moxie we’ll have coming out (in round two today).
“I can’t remember the last time I saw anybody over on 18. Luckily we played good on the front nine and we didn’t shoot ourselves out of the golf tournament.”
Matt Deal finished even on the day to join Zabroske in pacing GSU.
As round one of the three-round event concluded, No. 28 North Florida (3-under, 285) found itself as the frontrunner while the Eagles (4-over, 292) ended up tied for eighth with No. 24 Alabama.
Zabroske (even-par 72) started his day by noticing some funny noises going on with his pre-tournament practice drives.
It wasn’t funny when he grabbed his driver to begin tournament play.
“On the first tee I took the head cover off and the weight had fallen off the back of it,” said Zabroske. “I’m not sure what was going through my mind then. I was just trying to scramble to get a driver to tee off.”
It was assistant coach Carter Collins and one of the assistant pros in the club house to the rescue. Carter borrowed a driver for Zabroske, and the GSU senior played the round with someone else’s club.
“I hit it okay, did the best I could with it,” said Zabroske, who ended the day tied for 20th individually with the help of three-straight birdies on holes six, seven and eight. “In the front nine I didn’t have to use (the borrowed driver) too much. On the back nine I had to use it a little more, so I just tried to swing it out there a little shorter and just get it out there in play.”
Georgia Southern’s best performance of the day came from Logan Blondell. He is playing as an individual on the weekend, so his score won’t count toward the team total, but he shot a 1-under, 71 to finish tied for ninth in the individual standings.
Blondell birdied 18 and wiped out three bogies with birdies on six, nine and 13.
Individually, No. 20 Virginia’s Will Collins shot the low round on the day, carding a 4-under 68 with the help of birdies on one, seven, eight, 12 and 14.
DIVOTS: The highest-ranked team in the field – No. 11 South Carolina – finished 10th with a 5-over, 293. … North Florida’s J.C. Horne (3-under, 69), Jordan Gibb and Kevin Phelan (2-under 70) each placed in the Top 5 individually. It was the Ospreys’ Chris Kennedy (3-over 75) who kept UNF in reach of the field. … With the exception of GSU, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Louisville and North Carolina, the 15-team field is comprised of teams ranked in the Top 50.