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Eagles fire solid first round
Georgia Southern's Brett Barron and head coach Carter Collins, left, discuss strategy for the next shot after teeing off at the 18th hole during the first round of the Shenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club Friday.

    Georgia Southern is never without a competitive golf team. Considering that, The Eagles are always able to draw great competition in the annual Schenkel Invitational.
    Georgia Southern spent its fall and early spring season shaping its optimal lineup, and those plans seemed to pay off Friday with a solid round and a second-place standing  — at 8-under par — amongst a very intimidating field.
    Freshman Brett Barron fired a 5-under 67 to pace the team. Steven Fisk carded birdies on three of his final six holes and notched the team’s only eagle of the day as Georgia Southern heads into the second morning of the three-day competition with plenty of optimism.
    “Brett set the tone for the rest of the team,” GS coach Carter Collins said. ’I think this course has some hidden pressures in it. He went out there and hit the first tee shot — which is a pretty big honor — and kept going from there. That’s even more impressive when you consider that he’s still a freshman..”
    Barron hit his stride from the start. The freshman birdied five of his first nine holes and keeping pace on the back nine, staking his claim as a potential low medalist.
    As Barron continued to cruise, Fisk played out his round in 3-under despite a double-bogey on the back nine. Archer Price also broke par with a 1-under mark and Cody O’Toole’s plus-1 ending to the day was the only real shot to the Eagles’ first-day hopes to maintain the lead.
    “Playing at your home course, there are pressures,” Collins said. “Sometimes, you’re expected to hit every shot and know every break in each putt. We have to deal with those expectations, but we also have a lot of support to make those shots and get into the lead.”
    As the Eagles conceded a few strokes down the stretch, a talented field took advantage and caught up. The College of Charleston enters today’s play with the lead at 9-under while both Iowa and Lipscomb are a stroke behind the Eagles at 7-under. Florida is the second ranked team in the nation despite trailing by three strokes at 6-under, with top-ranked Vanderbilt just a shot behind that pace.
    The Eagles reached a peak of 11 shots under par and led the tournament by as many as four strokes throughout Friday’s action.
    Georgia Southern will be paired with Iowa and the College of Charleston for Saturday’s tee times.
    Beginning at 10:30 a.m., Storey will be followed by O'Toole, Archer Price, Fisk and Barron as the Eagles look for another solid round of scores.
    Temperatures are expected to make Saturday’s round even more enjoyable, but increased winds could easily turn Forest Heights into a different course on short notice.
    “The goal is to just play your best each round,” Barron said. “There are some great players and teams in this tournament, but the goal is to put up good scores and have them chasing us.”