Amid blustery conditions the No. 19 ranked Georgia Southern golf team fired an impressive 16-under par and hold a commanding 12 stroke lead after the opening round of the 43rd annual Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club.
All five Eagle golfers posted rounds under par with Mason Williams leading the way after firing a 66 which included a 32 on the difficult back nine. Ben Carr and Hogan Ingram both shot rounds of 68, while freshman Parker Claxton shot a 2-under par 70 and Wilson Andress carded a round of 71.
“I am very proud of the team and how they performed in adverse conditions out here today,” said Eagle coach Carter Collins. “The wind kicked up a lot earlier than we thought, and the green speed out here was very fast. This was probably faster than any of these guys have seen this course. We really played the back nine well and have a lot of momentum going into Saturday.”
Williams was the only Eagle player to not record a bogey in his round which he felt didn’t get off to the start he would have liked.
“I started a little rough with a couple of scratchy pars on the first two holes,” Williams said. “The rest of the round was rather stress free. I made a couple good par putts and birdies on 16, 17 and 18 was a nice way to finish. You really want everyone to play well and I really think we did that today. I know things will be a little different weather wise the next couple days and I hope we can continue to play consistently.”
With rain expected over night and cold temperatures forecast for Saturday the course could play a little differently than how it played Friday. The Eagle players are hoping their course knowledge will help them continue their success at a tournament that means so much to them.
“This tournament means the world to us,” said Ben Carr. “This was just the first round and there were so many people watching. I can only imagine what we will see over the weekend. This is my last one and it kind of sucks because this is my favorite event. All of us can’t wait to be able to come back and enjoy it after we graduate.”
The Eagles (-16) made 29 birdies on the day and hold the lead over No. 24 Mississippi State (-4) in their home tournament. Wisconsin (-2) and Kentucky are tied for third, and Liberty (-1) is fifth. The individual leader is Hunter Logan of Mississippi State who shot a 65. Williams is in second place, with Carr and Ingram tied for third.
The second round is scheduled to get underway Saturday at 9 a.m. Georgia Southern tees off beginning at 11 a.m. and will be playing with Wisconsin and Mississippi State.