May 14, 2008
HOUSTON, TEXAS--Jeff Goff’s season-best 67 guided third-ranked USC Aiken to an opening round 282 on Wednesday as the Pacers sit tied for fourth at the 46th NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship. Just nine shots off the pace set by Clayton State, USC Aiken is two-over-par following their second best team total of the season.
The surprise Lakers are one of only three unranked teams in the field, according to Golfstat.com, while top-ranked West Florida and #2 Sonoma State struggled to opening rounds of 12-over-par 292, and are tied for 18th.
USC Aiken is making the program’s 14th trip to the NCAA Championship in the 17 years the school has been affiliated with the NCAA. Ten regional champions, 10 at-large selections, and five individuals make up the 105-player field.
The 72-hole event is being contested at the 7,158 yard, par 70 Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas. Built in 1923 by architect John Bredemus, the 600-acre course was completely renovated in 1995 and is considered one of the finest municipal courses in the nation.
Goff opened play with a bogey-free front nine, collecting birdies on one, five, and eight to make the turn at 33. A pair of bogeys offset birdies on 14 and 17 as the senior Peach Belt All-Conference standout sits tied for fourth at three-under-par. The 67 equals his final round performance in the AFLAC/Cougar Invitational back on October 2.
Fellow All-Conference teammate Roberto Diaz played his final 11 holes at two-under-par, carding a 33 on the back side for a one-under-par 69. It was the first sub-70 round for the All-American since concluding the 39th Furman Intercollegiate with a 69 on March 30. Diaz, the only one in the youthful Pacer line-up who has played at the Division II Championship, is tied for 11th.
Belmont Abbey (-2) recorded the best round of the morning tee times, and is in second overall, five shots back of Clayton State (-7). Indianapolis (E) is third followed by the three-way tie for fourth with USC Aiken (+2), Grand Canyon (+2), and Western Washington (+2).
Freshman J.P. Solis sandwiched seven-straight pars on his front nine with a bogey six on the first hole and a birdie three on the ninth, finishing with a one-over-par 71 to tie for 28th.
Sophomore Kevin Grady and freshman Ashley Smith failed to record a birdie on the day, but posted only one big number between them to shoot 75 and 76 respectively and sit tied for 83rd and 93rd. Smith had just three bogeys on his round, but a triple bogey on five cost him. Grady shot a 36 on the front, but bogeyed 11, 14, 16, and 18.
In the individual race, Florida Southern’s Jude Eustaquio fired a seven-under-par 63 with seven birdies on his round. He leads Josh Orler of Grand Valley State and Clayton State’s Will Wilcox by three shots.
USC Aiken is set to tee off in Thursday’s second round beginning at 7:27 AM CST and play alongside Florida Southern and CSU-San Bernardino. Fans can follow all 72 holes of the 2008 NCAA Division II Championship live by logging onto www.PacerSports.com.