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Eagles Open Season in Truncated Home Event

the bridgewater golf team at the Tom Kinder Memorial

HARRISONBURG, Va. - The Bridgewater men's golf team opened the 2017-18 campaign today in their annual home tournament, the Tom Kinder Memorial. Play was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but the potential threat of hurricane Irma led to a 36-hole shootout in one day. The Eagles finished fifth among 16 teams in a strong field, and came away with some momentum to start the season.

The team was led by senior Luke Hill who played the first round of the day solidly, posting a 74, but the real fireworks started in the second round. Right out the gate, Hill birdied his first two holes (numbers 7 and 8 after a shotgun start), and when he returned to the Mountain Course at Lakeview Golf Club he dropped birdie putts of seven feet, two feet, and fifteen feet on holes 2, 3 and 4. "I had some tough breaks on the Lake (Course), but when I got back on the Mountain I knew I needed to get something going," said Hill, who also said he knew he could improve on the first round. Hill's 31 on the Mountain Course led to a second round total of 70, which moved him into a tie for ninth place overall.

Matthew Padgett, a senior who returned to the squad after a year off, also caught fire in the second round. He played the Lake Course at two under par and made four total birdies on his way to a score of 73. He paired that with a first round score of 76 for a total of 149 that was good for a tie in the 20th spot out of 90 total players. "It was great to see Matt back in action," said head coach John Rogers. "He played well in the qualifiers all week, but it's another thing to succeed under tournament pressure when you haven't competed for awhile."

Jeremy Pannebaker, also a senior, shot 34 on the Lake Course as well, but he did it in the first round and his 73 to start the day led the team. He followed up with a 78 in the afternoon to finish in a tie for 29th. "I had it going in the first round, which was nice to see" said Pannebaker. "Trying to keep up good play for 36 holes in one day is a tough task mentally and physically, but that's golf. Overall, I'm happy for the team, especially after the second round- anytime you can throw away a 78, you know the team has a chance to move up the leaderboard."

Pannebaker tied with teammate Ocean Armstrong (76-75). Armstrong played steadily in the final round but hit a ball out of bounds on each of his final two holes to finish three over par. Armstrong, the team's scoring leader last season, seems poised for another great year.

The only non-senior in the starting lineup today was freshman Jacob Czerwinski, a former East Rockingham High School standout who made good use of his first week of college by qualifying, among fourteen players, for tournament play. Czerwinski displayed an assortment of short-game shots that led to a second-round 75, which counted for the team score. Paired with a first-round 80, his total of 155 placed him in the 38th spot.

The Eagles shot 299 as a team in the first round and improved to 293 in the second round.

Playing at home, the team was fortunate to be able to play a "B Team" that was made up of Ronald Uszenski, Eugene Dillon, Jake Norby, Jason Spaar, and Michael Gruver. Spaar (75-75), playing in his first collegiate event, led the way for the B Team which finished in ninth place- ahead of six schools that brought their starters. "This just shows the talent and depth on this team," noted Rogers. "We've got 14 guys who can really play the game. To see a couple of the freshmen step up and play well before they've even been in school for two weeks bodes well for our future." Spaar finished in a tie for 25th.

Norby (75-76), a senior, had four birdies in the second round, was under par on the Lake Course, and tied Pannebaker and Armstrong with a total of 151.

Uszenski, a sophomore, shot 75-82 with an eagle on the par-5 14th hole and finished in the 50th spot overall.

Also playing on the B Team were Dillon and Gruver, both of who improved from the first round to the second. They finished 52nd and 67th respectively.

Freshman Brendan Draughn also started his collegiate career today, posting scores of 82-80 while placing fifth among 15 players competing as individuals.

The start of the 2017-18 season also marked the beginning of a new era for the Eagles- for the first time in 18 years, Coach Leroy Williams was not at the helm. Williams, now semi-retired, has stayed on to assist Rogers in leading the Bridgewater golf teams. "The success that this program has had over the last two decades- and the ability to place TWO teams in the top-10 at a very competitive tournament- it's all due to Lee," said Rogers. "He put this program on the map, and he has been a leader among ODAC coaches as well. Bridgewater has a lot to be thankful for regarding the efforts of Lee Williams, and personally I am thrilled that he is still here to help us keep moving forward."

It was a record-setting day as Guilford set Kinder tournament records for both single team round (276) and total team score (560), and Ferrum's Lance Keiser set a new individual scoring mark (132, -12) while equaling the single round record (64). The Eagles finished just six strokes behind ODAC rival Hampden-Sydney, who were ranked #22 in the nation last season.​