After an up-and-down first round a Forest Heights Country Club, Georgia Southern is a ways off of the lead, but still likes its chances at the Schenkel Invitational.
The Eagles stood at 3-under par as the team made the turn in Friday’s first round, but an 8 at No. 11 all but guaranteed that Crawford Simmons’ score wouldn’t be counted among the four scores turned in from five Eagle starters. Brett Barron followed Simmons and carded a 10 on the hole, and the team’s overall score went from three strokes off of the lead to 10-over - over a dozen strokes back - in less than half an hour.
But the team rallied from there and counted six birdies over the tough finishing three-hole stretch to finish the first round at 1-over par.
“Overall, I thought we had a good day out there,” GS coach Carter Collins said. “All of our guys played well in spots. The big thing was that we were able to finish strong.”
Barron made a sand save on No. 18 for a birdie while Steven Fisk was solid throughout the day in shooting a 1-over 73.
Archer Price is tied for second amongst individuals after blazing his way to a 5-under 67 and Jake Storey birdied his final three holes of the day to help keep Georgia Southern in the mix heading into the weekend.
“It’s all about playing one hole at a time and concentrating on the hole that’s in front of you,” Collins said. “I thought we did a good job of finishing the day strong. That built a little momentum that we can hopefully carry into tomorrow.”
Vanderbilt is the highest ranked team in the field and showed exactly why on Friday. Three of the Commodores’ starting lineup shot 3-under or better. The other two each shot even par, and Theo Humphrey’s round of 66 puts him atop the individual leaderboard at 7-under par.
Vanderbilt is steadily out in front with a score of 14-under after the first day. Kentucky is an arm’s length back at 5-under and Mississippi State’s 3-under showing makes it an all-SEC affair atop Friday’s leaderboard.
While Friday’s first round was played in sunshine and swirling winds, Saturday’s forecast shows a good chance of rain.Sunday will likely bring the warmest rounds of the weekend, so there is a good chance that the field will see three varying Forest Heights courses over three days.
“It’s nice to be on our home course, but I don’t think there’s a big advantage,” Collins said. “We’ve played through every sort of condition before, and so has everyone else. Everyone will be playing the same course. Our focus is on what each of our guys can do to help out our team.”
Georgia Southern will be a part of the first group off teams off the tee Saturday morning. The Eagles will begin play at 9 a.m., joined by Alabama-Birmingham for a second consecutive round, and with the College of Charleston rounding out the groups.
Playing groups will be shuffled once more ahead of Sunday’s final round.