Coastal Men's Golf Opens ETSU Event Strong
JONESBORUGH, Tenn. - Coastal Carolina has three players under par and is tied for fourth (6-under, 282) after the opening 18 holes of the ETSU Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, played at the par 72, 7,147-yard Blackthorn Club at The Ridges.
The 54-hole event will continue with 18 holes Saturday and a final 18 holes Sunday. As a team, Coastal has been below par in all seven rounds this season. Penn State, ranked 48th nationally, leads the way with an 11-under 277, followed by Tennessee (280), UNC Wilmington (281), Louisville (282) and Coastal (282). CCU leads #17 Kent State (283), #25 Missouri (285) and #13 Virginia (287).
"We had big time effort today," said first-year head coach Jim Garren. "We had our struggles on the par 5's and, if we were not as mentally tough as we were, we could be sitting in last place. Instead, we showed a lot of heart and fought the entire round. The three birdies on 18 were huge. Luis (Ruiz) had a great round and States (Fort) stepped up big time. We have put ourselves in a good spot after round one and now we need to get after it tomorrow because there are a lot of good teams here."
Luis Ruiz is 5-under par, shooting an opening round 67. He is one stroke off the lead and in a three-way tie for second. It marked the third time the junior carded a career-low round of 67 and he has shot par of better in six of his seven rounds this season. The 67 also marks the best round by a Chant at the ETSU event.
Friday, Ruiz opened with birdies on holes 1 and 2 and was 3-under after five holes. He dropped a shot on the par-4 9th hole but rallied with a birdie on the 10th hole. He added birdies on holes 14 and 18 to jump into a tie for second and help CCU move up two spots into a tie for fourth.
States Fort, playing his first event of the season, overcame a double bogey on the 4th hole to shoot a 2-under par 70 and stand in a tie for 11th. Fort birdied two of his first three holes before carding his double. He then reeled off seven pars and got back to 2-under after birdies on holes 12 and 14. He fell back to 1-under with a bogey on the 15th but, like Ruiz, birdied the 18th for his 70.
In his last two rounds at Blackthorn, Fort is a combined 6-under par after turning in a 4-under 68 in the final round last season.
Thadd Obecny II entered the weekend ranked 12th in the nation with an average score of -2.50 in relation to par. After shooting a 1-under par 71 Friday, the senior, like Ruiz, has shot par or better in six of his seven rounds this season. Obecny is a combined 5-under par over his last three rounds at Blackthorn as he posted rounds of 69-71 over the final 36 holes last fall.
Morgan Deneen, Andrew Roy and Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen round out CCU's quintet. Deneen shot a 2-over par 74 and tied for 50th. Roy is tied for 69th (shooting a 78). Goth-Rasmussen is in 83rd (shooting an 81).