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Eagles tied for first after Round 1

FLORENCE, S.C – Playing in his first Southern Conference Championship, junior Lewis Gruber looked quite at home, firing a 4-under 68 to finish in a first-place tie in the individual standings after day one. Gruber’s performance, coupled with three Eagles playing inside the top-25 individual standings, guided Georgia Southern to a three-way tie for first place after the first round of the 75th SoCon Golf Championship.  

“Our team played solid all around and it seemed like we had four guys in it all day,” said Head Coach Larry Mays. “They played patiently and didn’t get themselves in trouble. We played the right way -- didn’t make a big number-- and put in a solid round.”

Georgia Southern, posting a 1-under 287 team total at the par-72, 7,062-yard Country Club of South Carolina, tied Chattanooga and Samford for the tournament lead. College of Charleston and Davidson rounded out the top five, finishing day one in fourth (+2) and fifth place (+5), respectively. The first-round total marks one of the three best rounds of the season and third-straight year the Eagles head into the second round as one of the top two teams.

Gruber’s 68 marks the lowest round for an Eagle at the SoCon Championships since Drew Lethem’s 6-under 66 in 2009. The Tallahassee, Fla., native birdied the first two holes to open his round. Gruber made the turn at 1-under, but quickly extended his margin in red numbers with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes. Gruber’s five birdies around the course are second to only Samford’s Bill Nabors, who led the field with six. Gruber is tied with Davidson’s Richard Fountain for first place.     

“We were hanging around par all day and Coach [Carter] Collins and I talked about needing a guy to make a couple of birdies to pull the team ahead and Lewis did that,” said Mays. “He helped the team to the top and put himself at the top of the individual standings.”

Senior Logan Blondell (Lakeland, Fla.) recorded an even-par first round to sit in a tie for 12th place. Blondell cleaned up his scorecard with three birdies, two on the front and one on the back nine. Senior Matt Deal (Statesboro, Ga.) is one stroke behind Blondell, signing for a 1-over 73. Deal goes into the second round in a 17th-place tie after carding three birdies, one on the final hole.

Teammate Florian Sander (Bregenz, Austria) also birdied the final hole to bring his round total to 2-over 74. Sander opens Monday’s round in a tie for 21st place. Freshman Hayden Anderson (Knoxville, Tenn.) closed out his first day 4-over 76 for a 41st-place tie. 

Georgia Southern is paired with co-leaders Chattanooga and Samford for Monday’s second round. Hayden Anderson tees off first for the Eagles at 9:50 a.m. Each player will follow in 10-minute increments.   

“We have to play three rounds,” Mays stated. “We have not put together three solid rounds in a tournament this year. We stressed last night that we couldn’t win the championship today, but we can lose it. Tomorrow, we have to approach it the same way.”