CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The Bridgewater men's golf team played the first round of the Marine Corps Intercollegiate on Friday. Led by sophomore Jason Spaar, the Eagles managed the rainy conditions at Camp Lejeune and posted a team total of 310.
The Marine Corps Intercollegiate is a unique tournament for the Bridgewater squad each spring- it features three rounds on two courses, includes two rounds with civilian partners (playing best-ball), has two banquets, and some military panache involving the Marine Corps band and the raising of the colors to open the tournament.
On Friday the Eagles started on the more challenging Gold Course and overcame a slow start (playing the back-nine first) to improve on their first round a year ago by eight shots. Spaar had two early bogeys, but started dropping par putts and finally made a birdie on his ninth hole to turn at one over par. On his twelfth hole, Spaar's wedge shot skipped twice and stopped a foot from the hole for another birdie, and on his seventeenth hole he chipped in for a birdie to finish with an even-par score of 73.
"Jason is under par (total) for his last two rounds," noted head coach John Rogers. "He's been working on a new swing path through the ball which is leading to some very nice shots, and today the putter was sharp as well. As his confidence continues to grow, he will become one of the top players in the conference."
Freshman Seth Smallwood followed Spaar in with a 4-over total of 77, which is his best collegiate round so far, in relation to par. Smallwood ran in a 14-footer on his third hole (a 190-yard par-3) for birdie, and made a second birdie on his sixth hole after playing almost 8-feet of break. On his 16th hole, Smallwood chipped out of the bushes on the right side of the par-5 by hitting a left-handed shot with his 7-iron flipped upside down- he ended up making a 12-footer to save par.
Ronald Uszenski posted a 6-over score of 79 on Friday. Uszenski missed a couple wedge shots early in the round and was 3-over through four holes, but the long-hitting junior from Charlotte played the final 14 holes at just 3-over.
Sophomore Brendan Draughn continued his recent trend of striking the ball well and felt like he was close to shooting a low score. This is Draughn's first appearance at the Marine Corps tournament, and he went into the Gold Course "blind" after the team chose to play the Scarlet course for their practice round. Draughn said a few shots were in the wrong locations, but his score of 81 rounded out the team total of 310.
Senior Eugene Dillon shot 88, but bounced back from a slow start with a 42 on his back-nine.
The tournament host does not provide first round results, but the Eagles are likely on the way to achieving their goal of making the 36-hole cut; only the top-14 of 29 teams make the official championship on Sunday. "Our team average these days is about 310," said Rogers,"and we set out thinking that number would be pretty good on the Gold Course and put us in position to make the cut tomorrow. Given the fact that we had a rough start in the morning and finished the afternoon in a pouring rain, this was a successful first round."
The Eagles resume play at 8:50 Saturday morning on the shorter, more scoring-friendly Scarlet course.