DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—The No. 3-ranked William Woods University men’s golf team couldn’t have asked for a better start in the first round of the NAIA National Championship on Tuesday afternoon, as the team stands in a tie for first place, after totaling a 6-under par 282.
The Owls are in a tie with defending National Champion, Coastal Georgia, who also hit their way to a 6-under par round. Wayland Baptist is in third, scoring a 1-under par 287, while Texas Wesleyan (even-par) and Oklahoma City (1-over), round out the top-five.
Individually, Alastair Tidcomb (Coastal Georgia), leads overall, as he totaled a 7-under par 65. Right on his heels, however, in second place, is sophomore Matt Wells, who played a fantastic round for WWU, shooting a 6-under par 66.
Starting on the first nine, Wells was able to move to 1-under, after earning a birdie on the par five second. Then, after two consecutive par scores, the IIfracombe, England, native, scored an eagle on the fifth, to move to 3-under, as he headed toward the back nine.
“I played a really solid round today, as I hit the irons really well and the shot on five sewed up my round by holing out from 96 yards,” said Wells. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully keeping the same thing going.”
On the final nine holes, he continued his strong play, as he birdied holes 10 and 12, to jump to 5-under par. The sophomore went on to par five of the final six holes, while also adding his fourth birdie of the day, on the par four 17th, to conclude at 6-under.
Turning in another good round for WWU, was senior Julian Taylor, who sits in a tie for 13th, after turning in his scorecard with a 1-under par 71.
The York, England, native, bogeyed the first hole, but responded well, scoring birdies on two, four and five, to get back at 2-under par. Taylor would go on to par three of the next four holes, while hitting a bogey on the par five eighth and made the turn at 1-under.
On the back nine, he bogeyed the 10th, but found his way back to 2-under par, after hitting consecutive birdies on 14 and 15. His fourth bogey on the par four 18th, however, put him at 1-under for the day.
One stroke behind Taylor, is sophomore David Houlding, who earned his way to an even-par 72 first round score, which places him in a tie for 21st.
The Leeds, England, native, found his way to a 2-over par on the first three holes, after bogeying holes two and three, but was able to birdie holes seven and eight, to score an even-par 36 on the front nine.
On the back nine, Houlding bogeyed the par four 11th, but scored birdies on 14 and 16, to get under-par (-1) for the first time all afternoon. A bogey, on the 17th though, set him right back to an even-par 72 round.
Senior Stan Gautier, meanwhile, is one stroke behind Houlding, as he finished strong on the back nine, to conclude with a 1-over par 73 score, placing him in a tie for 25th.
The Paris, France, native, was at even-par through the first five holes, but ran into trouble on the sixth, scoring a double-bogey (+2). After a par on the seventh, Gautier, bogeyed the eighth and headed to the back nine at 3-over.
Things improved for him right away on the back nine, as he was able to birdie 11 and 13, to get to 1-over par. A bogey on the 14th, put him at 2-over, but he drained an important birdie on the 17th, to finish his day at 2-under on the back nine and 1-over for the round.
Billy McKenzie, a Portsmouth, England, native, is in a tie for 84th place, after finishing the day with a 5-over par 77. The sophomore was able to par the first four holes of his round and then moved to 1-under, after scoring a birdie on the fifth.
A double-bogey on the sixth and a bogey on the ninth, however, put him at 2-over par through nine holes of golf. On the back nine, he scored par on 10, 11 and 12, but another double-bogey, on the 13th, pushed him back to 4-over. McKenzie, was able to collect par on four of the final five holes, as he bogeyed the par three 15th, to conclude at 5-over.
The Owls finished the day with the best scoring average on the par thee (2.95) and par four (4.04) holes, while ranking eighth-best on the par five (4.90).
The team will be well rested for the second round on Wednesday, as they will be one of the final teams’ to tee off starting at 1:40 p.m., with Webber International and St. Francis University.
To view all the first round scores, visit HERE.
Fans make sure to stay updated on wwuowls.com tomorrow night for a full recap and round two scores from Florida.