'Board Day' For Tigers In First Round

Auburn finds itself 11 shots back after the first day of the 2003 East Regional.

Auburn, Ala.--Playing through a day when they didn't have their best performance, the Auburn Tigers shot a +4 round of 292 and stand in a tie for eighth place after the first day of competition at the 2003 NCAA Men's East Regional at the Auburn University Club. Tearing up the wet course in the afternoon round, both Tennessee and Georgia Tech shot -7 rounds of 281 to tie for the lead after the first day. Auburn Coach Mike Griffin said Thursday's round was all about positioning for the final two rounds this weekend.

"This is what you call a board day," he said. "You want to put it on the board the first day without blowing yourself up and having a bad day. I think basically that's what we did. Obviously it's not where we want to be. We're 11 back, that's three golf holes out here depending on circumstances, if somebody gets hot or somebody gets in trouble. You have to commend them for an outstanding score today, that's pretty good golf in these circumstances.

"I'm proud of our players because we were pretty much four-legged all day long. We had our number one player, a local boy Tyler McKeever, had a rough day. He was over par quick, struggling, and we've got four legs out there working. They held it together and came in."

Lee Williams blasts out of a greenside bunker.

The story of the day wasn't a good score shot by an Auburn player, but it was the out of character 81 (+9) that McKeever shot. Playing in front of the home crowd, he struggled out of the gate and never recovered. Coach Griffin said following the round that McKeever's score makes this day a little better heading into day two of the regional.

"It can't be anything but a positive," Griffin said. "He's playing the best golf on our team right now and that's why he's playing the number one position. You just don't figure that he's going to shoot that kind of number. It's not supposed to happen. Today is over with and he starts over where he can help us put a good total up tomorrow. I know he hates it because it puts him in a rough spot, but he's a competitor and he's a gamer and he'll come back and help us out tomorrow."

Playing solid golf, Auburn's other four players took up the slack for McKeever. Lee Williams and Will Claxton both fired rounds of even par 72 while Jonathan Dismuke carded a 73. Jay Mundy was Auburn's fourth scorer of the day with a +3 round of 75. Williams said that if you have to have a day like the Tigers did Thursday, it's better to have it early.

"I didn't hit it very good, but I hit it in play all day," Williams said. "I hit it on the greens and made two birdies and two bogeys. It was kind of a boring day, but I didn't hit the ball that well though. There really weren't a whole lot of chances for me to make birdies today, but that's how it goes.

"It was just another day. If we're not going to play our best I would rather it be the first day than the last day. Tyler didn't play his best, but I know tomorrow he'll come out and play well. We feel good about where we are I believe. We just look forward to tomorrow and the next day."

Jonathan Dismuke putts for an eagle on the 7th hole.

Trailing Tennessee and Georgia Tech in third place is top-ranked Clemson (-3) followed by Duke (-2). Florida, Augusta State and Wake Forest are all tied for fifth at +2 while Auburn is tied with Georgia State at four over. Vanderbilt is in 10th place after the first day at +5. The College of Charleston (+7), South Carolina (+8), East Tennessee State (+9) and UNC-Wilmington (+12) follow through 14th place.

Auburn flips tee times on day two with the first tee time on hole one at 7:30 a.m. There is no admission to the event. It can be followed live on www.golfstat.com.

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