AUSTIN – The Bearkats wrapped up the first day of the NCAA Golf Regional in Austin sitting in 11th place after shooting an opening round 303, 19-over par.
The Bearkats, who entered the regional as the No. 11 seed, got off to a good start. Getting the day started on No. 10, they combined for seven birdies in the first five holes and were 1-under as a team. But they managed just five birdies the rest of the way.
“This is such a difficult golf course that demands you make good shots,” said head coach Brandt Kieschnick. “Par on this course is good and we just didn’t make enough of them today. Early on I thought we took advantage of the birdie opportunities when we had them. If we can do that over our next 18 holes, we are right back in this.”
Noah Steele and Luis Carrera led the way for the Kats with 3-over rounds of 74. Carrera, the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, opened his day with birdies on two of his first four holes and was 1-under through 8 holes. But after a stretch of three bogeys over four holes and then a double bogey on No. 7, which played as the most difficult hole on the course on Monday, Carrera was four over. He closed with a birdie to finish out his day.
Steele’s round of 74 was much less eventful. He opened with a pair of bogeys to start the day and then got both shots back after birdies on Nos. 12 and 14. After back to back bogeys on 15 and 16, Steele made the turn at 2-over. His only blemish on the back 9 (holes 1-9) was a bogey on No. 7. Steele and Carrera are tied for 35th overall in the field of 75 golfers.
William Holcomb is one shot back of Steele and Carrera after shooting a 75. His day resembled Carrera’s, with two birdies and five bogeys on the front nine. A birdie on No. 4 got Holcomb back to 2-over, but bogeys on three of the next four holes put him at 5-over. Just like Carrera, Holcomb birdied his last hole to get him to 4-over for the day.
Levi Valadez shot an 80 and is 9-over for the tournament. He opened strong with birdies on two of his first five holes, and was 1-under through five. Double bogeys on Nos. 15 and 18 put him at 4-over when he made the turn.
Freshman Jack Randle made the turn at 2-over after closing his first nine with six straight bogeys. But he made just one par on the back nine and finished with an 82.
As a team the Bearkats did their best work on the par 5s, playing the three holes at 4-under which was tied for the fourth-best par 5 score. Seven of the team’s 12 birdies came on par 5 holes.
The Kats will tee off for round 2 on Tuesday at 8:55. They will be paired with Iowa and St. Mary’s. Texas and Pepperdine are tied for the lead at 6-under par. TCU is 4-under and Arkansas is 2-under. The top five teams will advance to the national championships in Arkansas.