Griffin Likes AU's Start at NCAA Championship

Auburn's men's golf team kept up its strong play with a solid first round in the NCAA Championships.

Hot Springs, Va.-–Surprising many by qualifying for the 2004 NCAA Championships, the Auburn men's golf team isn't going to let the opportunity pass them by without making a run at the title.

In Tuesday's first round Jonathan Dismuke fired a two-under par round of 68 to lead the Tigers to a three-over par round as a team. That score is good enough for fourth place after the first day, just four shots back of leader California with BYU at even par and TCU at one over. Coach Mike Griffin said his team just played outstanding golf on the first day to put themselves into contention.

"Obviously we feel like we did a good job this morning putting ourselves in a good position," Griffin said. "We played under ideal conditions this morning. It was cool, it was crisp and the greens were really nice. There was no wind until we were six or seven holes into the round. We couldn't have had it much better. We were fortunate to get that early draw in the first round."

Jonathan Dismuke

Both Stuart Moore and Andrew Medley fired 71s on the par-70 Cascades Course at The Homestead Resort while Matthew Myers shot a 73 and Will Claxton a 74. As is often the case there were several key holes for the Tigers, none bigger than 16 and 17 coming down the stretch. Two of the three par-fives on the course, 16 and 17 played relatively easy on Tuesday and Dismuke and Moore both birdied each hole to push Auburn up the leaderboard and finish with a flurry. Griffin said that was a good way to finish the round after going a combined +10 on holes 11-15, the toughest stretch of holes on the course.

"I don't think 11-15 are as tough as we made them, but that is easily the toughest stretch of holes on the golf course," Griffin said. "If you're going to make something happen it's going to be at 16 and 17. The first par-five on the front side is not a birdie hole. Sixteen is reachable with a good drive and 17 was reachable today, but you had to hit good, solid drives with some length to them. Stuart went for both of them, made both of them and made two birdies. He also hit it close on 18 and birdied there."

Tied with the Tigers four back of Cal is Kentucky with Southern California (+4), Florida (+5), Clemson (+5), Georgia (+5) and Oklahoma (+6) rounding out the top 10. Individually Jeff Hood from Cal set the pace with a blistering 65 on the opening day that included one eagle, four birdies and just one bogey. Georgia's Kevin Kisner had the day's second-best round with a 66 along with TCU's Adam Meyer. Also playing strong was Indiana's Jeff Overton with a 67 along with Ryan Moore from UNLV. Both were just ahead of the pace set by Dismuke and Matt Wells of Kentucky.

Coach Mike Griffin

Wednesday will be the big day for the Tigers if they hope to keep within shouting distance of the lead. Unlike Tuesday's round, in round two Auburn will tee off at noon and must face the toughest conditions. Griffin said that his club will shoot to keep it close early after a start on the 10th tee and hope to make up some ground finishing on the front nine.

"Tomorrow afternoon there is a 30 percent chance of rain and about a 10-20 MPH wind," Griffin said. "We have the same pairings and tee times that we had a Yale (East Regional). We're hoping that good fortune will rub off on us one more time. The guys seem to really like that pairing. We know that the conditions will be a little tougher tomorrow than today, but some teams have played really well today in the afternoon.

"If we can get through that tough stretch tomorrow because we're starting on the back. If we can somehow stay in the top 10 and go to the front side and do what we did today we'll have a fighting chance to hang on and give it a battle from there on in. We've got a chance to do that, but we know it will be tougher conditions tomorrow."

Texas (+8), Georgia Tech (+9), Texas A&M (+9), Penn State (+9), UCLA (+9), Washington (+9), New Mexico (+11), Georgia State (+12), Purdue (+12), Arizona (+12), Oklahoma State (+12), North Carolina (+14), Kent State (+14), Toledo (+14), Vanderbilt (+14), Arizona State, (+14), Pepperdine (+15), SMU (+17), Wichita State (+18) and Rhode Island (+19) round out the 30-team field after the first day of play.

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