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Stouffer Ties Low Round, Eagles Sixth at Shenandoah

AJ stouffer chips during his round of 67

FRONT ROYAL, Va. - Due to continued heavy rain in the region, the Greene Turtle Invitational (hosted by Shenandoah University) was first dropped from thirty six holes to eighteen, and then had to change venues. But when the tournament was finally contested Monday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, freshman A.J. Stouffer led the Eagles to a 6th-place finish among 16 teams.

Stouffer, from Charlottesville, started his college career on Monday, and started in great fashion. He birdied his first hole (#7 on the Red Course at Shenandoah Valley) and was soon three under par after birdies on his third and fifth holes. From there he played steadily, having just one bogey, which he answered with a tough birdie on his seventeenth hole, following a punch shot under two trees that scurried onto the green.

Stouffer's three-under total of 67 is believed to be the lowest career-starting round posted in Bridgewater history, and it tied him with Josh Hill of Guilford College, who was awarded the medal after a scorecard tie-breaker.

"AJ has got another gear he tends to save for tournament conditions," noted head coach John Rogers. "He will be a major factor for this team in the years ahead."

Sophomore Jason Spaar shot 72, the lowest score of his young career. despite having a little trouble adjusting to the slow, wet greens, Spaar made a lot of pars in his round and tied for 18th among 80 players.

Ronald Uszenski came in with a 73 for the Eagles' third score. While the long-hitting junior was not very happy with his round on the shorter layout at Shenandoah Valley, it still tied the second-lowest score of his collegiate career, and bodes well for the season ahead.

Sophomore Brendan Draughn saw limited playing time his freshman year, but he worked hard over the summer and had some strong results in summer tournaments. This paved the way for Draughn to earn a starting spot at the start of the 2018-19 season, and on Monday he turned in a 78 to round-out the Bridgewater team score. To date, this is Draughn's lowest collegiate score.

Freshman Blake Sawyer also qualified for the first event, and despite being five shots over par early in the round, he held on to shoot 80 in his inaugural college event.

After heavy rains for several days, the Greene Turtle Invitational moved from Winchester Country Club to Shenandoah Valley, and the tournament was played on a par-70 layout. Nonetheless, the team score of 290 was the lowest in three years for the Eagles, and it claimed sixth place overall, and third among ODAC teams. Guilford College claimed the team title with a score of 281.

On this sloppy, drizzly day, the Eagles were also able to enter a 'B Team', which was composed of Michael Gruver, Seth Smallwood, Matthew Sengul, Hayden Moore, and Taylor Ferguson.

Smallwood, a freshman from Broadway High School, led the way for the second team with a 77 to open his career at Bridgewater. Smallwood was pleased with his ball-striking, but said he struggled with his putting.

The team's only senior, Gruver, shot 78, a round made more impressive by the fact that he started the day with a quadruple bogey. Gruver's steady play included 13 pars on the round, and this marked the fifth lowest round of his career.

Sengul saw limited playing time his freshman year, but started his sophomore year with a new collegiate personal best score of 80. Like fellow freshman Smallwood, Sengul was pleased with his full shots, but said his putting let him down.

Junior Moore made some moves late in his round, hitting his approach on #14 (Red Course #7) to three feet for a birdie, and two holes later he tapped in for birdie after narrowly missing his eagle chip on a par-5. His round of 82 also marked a new career number.

Freshman Ferguson started his career at Bridgewater with an 86 and he stated that he looked forward to improving his tee shots and course management to make scoring easier in the near future.

"Granted, it's a little misleading since we had four freshman start their careers today, but I think eight of our ten players had career marks out there," noted Rogers. "We are young, and we have a ways to go before we will find ourselves among the elite ODAC teams, but this team came ready to play, and I think it is going to be a fun season ahead."

Barring interference from Hurricane Florence, the Eagles are back in action at their home event on September 17 and 18.