The Times West Virginian

May 20, 2009

Falcons struggle in opening round

BLAINE, Wash. — Fairmont State’s men’s golf team struggled in the opening round of the 47th annual NCAA Division II National Men’s Golf Tournament at the Loomis Trail Golf Club here Tuesday.

The Falcons fired an opening-round 322 and find themselves in 19th place in the 20-team field after one round of the four-round tourney.

Only Concord University, which had a pair of players disqualified Tuesday, is behind FSU.

Barry University and Sonoma State are tied for the lead after the opening round. Both teams fired eight-over par 293s Tuesday to share the top spot. Northeastern State University is third after shooting a first-round 297.

Barry won the 2007 NCAA Division II National Championship.

Fairmont State is 38 shots over after one round. The Falcons were led Tuesday by freshman Sean Stevens, who fired an opening-round 78. Stevens was three-over heading into his final hole, but took an eight on a par-4 to finish seven shots over par on the par-71 course.

The Falcons also got 79s from sophomore Matt Gissy and freshman Andrew Duff. Senior Zack Rudy and junior Jeff Cunningham both carded 86s.

“We had some guys suffer some tough breaks today and they just had trouble recovering from them,” said FSU coach Doug Comer. “The good thing is we have three rounds of golf remaining. We’re certainly not going to quit. We’re really keeping things light-hearted out here.

“At dinner the kids still had smiles on their faces and that’s what I was hoping to see. They were all ticked off when they got off the course today, but we can’t take back what happened out there in the first round to us. We just have to forget about it and start fresh Wednesday. Our mindset is to turn this into a three-day tournament and see if we can move up the ladder as much as possible.”

FSU’s first player will tee off today at 8:10 a.m. which will be 11:10 a.m. in Fairmont.

“We honestly feel like things can only get better for us,” said Comer. “I’m not going to lie, the conditions out here were tough in the first round. It was very windy and if your ball got up in the wind it was nothing for it to move 30 yards.

“We’re not going to make excuses, though. We’re going to be well-rested and come out Wednesday early and try to get it done.”

Cal State University-San Bernardino’s Gene Webster is the individual leader of the tournament. He carded an opening-round, one-under par 70. He’s followed by Sonoma State’s Patrick Bauer, Barry University’s Victor Billskoog, Barton College’s Jonathan Burke, Wayne State University’s Steve Cuzzort and Northeastern State University’s Sam Powell, who all shot even-par 71s in the opening round.

There was one rare occurrence in the first round of the tourney. Washburn University’s Matt Ewald recorded a hole-in-one on the 326-yard, par-4 No. 13 hole. Ewald finished one-over for the day and is tied for seventh individually in the tournament. He used his driver to ace the hole. It was his first career hole-in-one and the first one ever recorded on the 13th hole at Loomis Trail which opened in 1992.