UNCG tied for sixth after SoCon first round
FLORENCE, S.C. – Kyle Sonday, continuing an impressive spring season, shot a 1-under-par 71 on Sunday to lead the UNCG men's golf team to a sixth-place tie after the first round of the highly competitive, 11-team Southern Conference championship at the Country Club of South Carolina.
The Spartans, who shot a collective 295 on the par-72 course, are in the middle of the pack but only eight shots behind the leaders, Chattanooga, Samford and Georgia Southern, in the 54-hole event. The deficit is the second-smallest a team in sixth or lower has faced after the first round of the event since 1998.
There is precedent for eradicating such a deficit to win the championship. In 2000, East Tennessee State trailed by nine strokes after the first round and won the title by 11.
UNCG, tied with Wofford for sixth, entered the tournament as the SoCon's second-best team according to the national rankings at golfstat.com.
Sonday, playing in his first full season since the spring of 2009, broke par in an event for the fifth time in his six starts of 2010-11. His 4-over-par 217 led the Spartans in last week's Irish Creek Intercollegiate, in which they finished eighth among 13 competitors.
He's tied for eighth among individuals this week. He's two shots off the lead and one ahead of a group that includes teammate Andy Knox. Will Almand (75), Robert Hoadley (76) and Colin Chapman (76), all of whom have shot 68 or better at least once in 2010-11, are the other UNCG players in the field.
"I expect the team to play better," coach Terrance Stewart said. "We need to be around 280 to get back in contention. Kyle had a solid round today and I expect he and Andy to continue their solid play."
The Southern Conference tournament predates the Masters by a year although both events celebrate their 75th installments in 2011. UNCG, in its 14th SoCon championship, is seeking its first title. The program won two of the five Big South Conference tournaments in which it participated (1995 and '96).
75th SOUTHERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
Country Club of South Carolina (Par-72, 7,062 yards)
T1. Chattanooga 287; T1. Samford 287; T1. Georgia Southern 287; 4. College of Charleston 290; 5. Davidson 293; T6. UNCG 295; T6. Wofford 295; 8. Western Carolina 296; 9. Elon 297; 10. Furman 299; 11. Appalachian State 302.
Top 10: T1. Richard Fountain (Davidson) 68; T1. Lewis Gruber (Ga Southern) 68; 3. Casey O'Brien (Samford) 69; T4.Coy Breen (College of Charleston) 70; T4. Steve Dressel (Elon) 70; T4. Stepan Jaeger (Chattanooga) 70; T8. Alex Ellis (College of Charleston) 71; T8. Chris Robb (Chattanooga) 71; T8. Kyle Sonday (UNCG) 71; T8. Brent Whitehead (Wofford) 71.
Other UNCG golfers: T17. Andy Knox 73; T30. Will Almand 75; T41. Colin Chapman 76; T41. Robert Hoadley 76.
- UNCG -