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Eagles in Second at Season Opener

jason spaar chips from the bunker

WINCHESTER, Va. - The Bridgewater men's golf team opened the 2019-20 season at Winchester Country Club on Sunday and posted a team score of 304 to claim a share of second-place among twelve teams at the halfway mark of the Shenandoah Invitational.

On a beautiful day on the par-71 layout, junior Jason Spaar birdied three of the first seven holes and made the turn at two under par. Spaar, carrying some momentum over from the summer when he won the Roanoke Hall of Fame tournament with a two-day total of -5, held on during the tougher back nine on Sunday to shoot 72, one over par. "I was just trying to play smart golf around that course," said Spaar. "Making pars is the key, and birdies are just a nice bonus. Good decision-making makes that course much easier."

With one round to play, Spaar is one shot off the lead and tied for third place.

Senior Ronald Uszenski dropped out of the practice round on Saturday to go to the driving range in search of a swing, but he gutted-out a 75 in the opening round of the season. Despite hitting just five greens in regulation, Uszenski scrambled and took advantage of his length to make three birdies (two in the final four holes), and he sits in ninth place among 78 players.

Junior Jacob Laughlin joined the Eagles this season after transferring from Virginia Wesleyan, and he opened the latest phase of his collegiate career with a score of 75. Laughlin's wedge shot on the par-4 third hole plugged in a bunker and he made double-bogey; he was already three-over par at that point, but he played the next eight holes at -1. He sits in a tie for 9th, alongside Uszenski.

Sophomore Seth Smallwood got off to a slow start on Sunday and was seven over par through eight holes, but played steadily after that and posted an 82 to complete the team score.

Junior Brendan Draughn played steadily on the front nine and had a seven-hole stretch at even par in the middle of the round on the way to a score of 84.

Two years ago at the Shenandoah Invitational, Bridgewater entered two teams, and both finished in the top-10. The Eagles entered two teams this year as well, and the 'B Team' is currently in sixth place, just four shots behind the starting squad, and only seven shots off the lead. "It's really great that we are in a position to offer playing time to so many players, and it's even better to see the way some of our younger players are able to step up when given a chance," said head coach John Rogers.

Leading the B Team was freshman Jacob Sears, whose back-nine score of 35 tied the low score in the field. Sears jarred a short-side flop-shot on the 4th hole for birdie en route to a score of 74. Sears sits in seventh place after his first collegiate round.

Just behind Sears was fellow freshman Jackson Soska, who never made worse than bogey as he posted 75. A highlight for Soska was making birdie on the 469-yard, par-4 13th hole, a score that was more than two strokes better than the average score on Sunday.

Sophomore Blake Sawyer was another underclassman who showed up for the Eagles during the season-opener. Despite dropping four strokes on the final three holes, the sophomore posted 79, and had a nine-hole stretch in the middle of the round that was even par.

Freshman Alex Czerwinski played his first 18-hole round of the year on Sunday, but he made the turn at just +2 and held on to post an 80. Junior Matthew Sengul played the challenging stretch of holes #10 through #14 at even par and finished with a score of 82 to round out the B Team roster.

The B Team score of 308 has them ahead of six starting squads, while 304 from the A Team leaves them three shots behind Ferrum College and tied for second-place with Lynchburg.

"It has been a while since we have had a team win, or a medalist," noted Rogers, "but here we are with two teams in the hunt and five players in the top-10. Hopefully, Monday will be the day we break through, but regardless, it's a good time to be an Eagle, and I'm excited to see what these guys will achieve in the months ahead."