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Eagles Open Play at Royal Lakes

brendan draughn hits an iron shot

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - The Bridgewater men's golf team had to travel to the outskirts of Atlanta to finally play in a tournament that was neither shortened nor re-scheduled due to rain.

Play opened Monday in the Oglethorpe/Royal Lakes Fall Invitational (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and the Eagles' third tournament was also the first time this season they have played in sunshine.

Bridgewater, despite the rainy weather in Virginia, started the season with a torrid scoring pace, and the team was 15th in the nation in scoring when they headed into the Oglethorpe event, an elite tournament that features ten teams from the top-50 in 2017-18. On Monday, the Eagles fell back from their early scoring range, posting a team total of 316 that put them in 15th place among 18 teams.

"The way we started out this season, scoring-wise, had us looking forward to jumping into this great event and knocking heads with some of the top teams in the nation," said head coach John Rogers, "but we never really got any momentum going today." Rogers added that it was the team's first real road trip of the season (after tournaments at Shenandoah and at home), first time playing on Bermuda grass in 2018-19, and the first time any of these players have seen the challenging layout at Royal Lakes Golf Club.

Sophomore Brendan Draughn led the Eagles in the first round, posting a 77. Draughn was even par after the front nine, but had a four-hole stretch soon after the turn that claimed five strokes. Early in the new season Draughn's scoring average has dropped a stunning nine strokes from last year's numbers.

Ronald Uszenski (junior) and A.J. Stouffer (freshman) followed Draughn in with a pair of 79s. Uszenski started the day quietly, with seven straight pars, but dropped five shots on holes #11 through #14. He finished with his only birdie on #18 after hitting driver and 4-iron onto the green of the 530-yard par-5 hole.

Stouffer started the day slowly, and after hitting his tee ball out of bounds on the 6th hole he was already six strokes over par- but he rebounded and played the next eleven holes at even par. Stouffer, playing in only his third collegiate event, entered the week in the top-15 in scoring among D-III players.

Sophomore Jason Spaar provided the final number for the Eagles, an 81. Spaar said that he would look to improve his iron-play after Monday.

Freshman Seth Smallwood posted 91 on Monday after playing the par-5 holes at 12 strokes over par.

At the halfway point, Babson College is leading the way with a team score of 291. Bridgewater sits within 10 strokes of Texas at Dallas (311), the host school Oglethorpe (306), and Centre (306), all teams that were ranked well ahead of Bridgewater last season.

"We did not achieve what we wanted to do today," said Rogers, "but with our home event unexpectedly being played last week, and all the rain at home, we really did not get much time to prepare this week. Hopefully we will learn a few things from today's round and come out tomorrow ready to improve our position."

Play is scheduled to resume at 8:05 Tuesday morning (the Eagles likely teeing off at about 9:00 a.m.) and live scoring is available on Golfstat http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=16144.