May 29, 2012
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. (seminoles.com) - The Florida State University men's golf team is in a five-way tie for sixth place - only five strokes out of the team lead --- after the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship at the Riviera Country Club. The Seminoles were a combined three strokes under par on the final two holes and had two players shoot even par as they completed the first 18 of 54 holes of stroke play in the championship on Tuesday. Senior Brooks Koepka and junior Joaquin Lolas are in a tie for 13th place in the individual standings as both players carded event par scores of 71.
The Seminoles will continue to play for one of the top eight spots in the team standings during the remaining two rounds of stroke play in order to qualify for match play which begins on Friday. The top eight teams in stroke play face each other in a bracket-style competition (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5) in the final three rounds of the event to decide the national champion. The individual national champion will be decided after three rounds of stroke play.
No. 2 ranked Alabama jumped out to a quick start and holds the team lead with a score of 285. The Crimson Tide leads No. 18 ranked Florida and No. 4 ranked Auburn by four strokes. Alabama is looking to follow the lead of the Crimson Tide women's golf team which won the Division I championship last week in Franklin, Tenn. Anton Arboleda is the individual leader after the first round of the event with a 4 under par scores of 67. A total of X golfers in the 126 player field finished with scores at or below par (71) while playing through what was called `perfect' weather for golf.
"Overall we played pretty well today," said head coach Trey Jones. "The only thing we were missing was a round under par and that is easier said than done at Riviera. We lost some shots on the back nine on the 12-16 stretch. We start on the back tomorrow; we will need to execute at a high level to get off to a good start."
Koepka (Wellington, Fla.) played well in the first round as he carded a team-leading five birdies and eight holes at par in finishing with his score of even par 71. He played his best golf on the back nine with three birdies and a 1 under par total to finish the round. Koepka was 1 under par over his final four holes including a birdie on the par 5 No. 17 to help the Seminoles gain a stroke late in the round.
The ACC Player of the Year was never more than 2 strokes over par and was at or under par for exactly half of the round (nine of 18 holes). He closed both sides of the course well - he was 1 under par over the course of the final four holes of both his front nine and his back nine.
"I don't really feel that I did too much well today," said Koepka. "I waited for my opportunities and made the most of what the golf course gave to me. I feel like my best golf is certainly ahead of me in this tournament."
"Brooks played well and this is the stage where the experienced players need to step up," said Jones.
Lolas (Lima, Peru) was the most consistent of the five Seminoles in the first round. Inserted into the line-up only two days before the competition began because of an injury to junior Doug Letson, Lolas carded three birdies, a team-high 15 holes at par or better and a team low three bogeys. Despite not having played as a member of the Seminoles' line-up since the Seminole Intercollegiate in March, he birdied his first and fifth holes and was one under par after his first nine holes. Lolas finished his round at even par over his final seven holes to card only his three round of par or better golf in 19 rounds this year.
Lolas was at or below par for the first 15 holes of the round before a bogey on the par three hole No. 4 moved his score to 1 over par. He quickly remedied the situation with a birdie on the par five hole No. 17 before closing the round at par on the 18th hole.
"I didn't feel like my ball striking was as good as it had been in the last couple of days," said Lolas. "But I was able to be smart and give my short game a chance to finish with a good round today. My long game should give me more chances at birdies during the next two days. We are expecting a good run from each one of our guys for the remainder of the tournament."
Koepka and Lolas are only four strokes out of the individual lead as the begin play in the second round.
"Joaquin replaced Doug in the line-up and did a great job using his short game and managed the course well today," said Jones. "This time last week he was preparing for summer golf not the NCAA Championship."
Junior Chase Seiffert (Panama City, Fla.) returned to form with a 2 over par score of 73 and is in a tie for 46th place in the individual standings. After finishing in a tie for 52nd place in the individual standings at the NCAA Southwest Regional Championship, he was eager to return to the form which earned him All-ACC honors for the first time in his career this spring. He returned to form quickly with a birdie on his first hole and closed the round well as he was even par on his back nine. Seiffert carded two birdies on his final four holes of the round and.
Seiffert finished the round with three birdies and 13 holes scored at par or better.
Freshman Daniel Berger (Jupiter, Fla.) carded a 4 over par score of 75 and is in a tie for 82nd place in the individual standings. He began the round on an extremely high note as he carded his fourth eagle of the season on his first hole and moved quickly to 3 under par with a birdie in the par three hole No. 4. Berger's eagle came on the par five hole No. 1.
Berger has now carded an eagle in three consecutive and four of his last five events. He carded an eagle in the second round of the FAU Spring Break Invitational on March 24, was eagle-less in the Gary Koch Intercollegiate, had an eagle in the second round of the ACC Championship on April 21, another in the first round of the NCAA Southwest Regional Championship on May 17 and his fourth in Tuesday's first round.
Senior Wesley Graham (Port Orange, Fla.) is in a tie for 122nd place in the individual standings after carding a 77 - his highest score since carding a 78 in the first round of the Gary Koch Intercollegiate on April 7. He has carded 24 of his 28 (85.7 percent) single rounds scores at 75 or better this year including eight straight and 19 of his last 20 heading into the NCAA Championship Finals.
The Seminoles will once again play with Florida and Kent State in Wednesday's second round beginning at 3:20 EST. The Gators finished the first round in 13th place (two strokes ahead of Florida State) while Kent State finished the first round in 18th place (three strokes behind Florida State).
"This team will come out and compete tomorrow," said Jones before leaving the course for the day.
>b>NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship/May 29-June 3, 2012/Par 71 Riveria Country Club/Pacific Palisades, California/First Round Florida State Results T6/30. Florida State 290 T13. Brooks Koepka 71 T13. Joaquin Lolas 71 T46. Chase Seiffert 73 T81. Daniel Berger 75 T122. Wesley Graham 77
NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship/May 29-June 3, 2012/Par 71 Riveria Country Club/Pacific Palisades, California/First Round Team Results 1. Alabama 285 T15. California 295 T2. Florida 288 T15. Illinois 295 T2. Auburn 288 T15. East Carolina 295 T4. UCLA 289 T15. Liberty 295 T4. Oklahoma 289 20. Washington 296 T6. Iowa 290 21. UAB 297 T6. Florida State 290 T22. Southern Cal 298 T6. North Florida 290 T22. Texas A&M 298 T6. Texas 290 T24 Chattanooga 299 T6. UCF 290 T24. TCU 299 11. Oregon 291 T24. Memphis 299 12. San Diego State 292 T24. Virginia Tech 299 T13. Kent State 293 T24. Lamar 299 T13. Stanford 293 T29. Virginia 306 T15. Georgia 295 T29 Tulsa 306