Coastal claims first-round lead at Sun Belt tourney

The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot a 10-over par 294 and in is first place after 18 holes on Sunday at the 2018 Sun Belt Championship, played at the par-71, 6,802-yard Raven Golf Club at Sandestin.

The Chanticleers were as low as eighth early in the round and were in sixth place at 13-over late in the round. However, Luis Ruiz birdied his last two holes and Daniel Overas had a birdie on his final hole to bring the team total down to 10-over. The Chanticleers were tied for fourth when their round was over with numerous teams still on the course. When all was said and done, Coastal Carolina was leading by one stroke over South Alabama and UT Arlington.

Part of CCU’s success can be attributed to playing the par 4’s at 4-under par, three shots better than South Alabama and four shots better than UTA. Coastal also had 57 pars on Sunday, second-best in the field.

“We had a solid day today,” said first-year head coach Jim Garren. “The guys showed some great fight from the start. The conditions were tough as the wind blew all day with periods of strong gusts. It was really good to see us close the round in a strong note. All in all, it was a good day”

Coastal Carolina has three players among the top 15. Ruiz and Thadd Obecny II are tied for seventh as each carded a 1-over par 72. Morgan Deneen is one shot in arrears of his teammates and is tied for 13th after shooting a 73.

“Luis, Thadd and Morgan played nice rounds of golf under the circumstances.” Garren said. “Daniel’s did a good job batting and his birdie on 18 was huge for us. We have three guys playing in their first conference championship. I hope they will be more relaxed tomorrow. We are looking forward to getting back after it again tomorrow.”

Ruiz was even after eighth holes, with a birdie and bogey, before suffering a double bogey on the tough ninth hole. He dropped another shot on the par-4 14th hole before his birdies on holes 17 and 18.

Obecny turned in four bogeys and three birdies before finishing his round with seven straight pars for his 73. The senior led the field in par 5 scoring, getting birdies on the first three and a par on the fourth one.

Deneen was second-best among 60 golfer by playing the par 5’s at 2-under (two birdies and two pars. He was even through 14 holes, getting three birdies and three bogeys, before taking a double bogey on the 16th hole. He rallied to par the final three holes for his 2-over par 73.

Despite shooting as 6-over, Overas played the par 4’s at even par, third-best in the field. He stands in a tie for 30th after his opening-round 77. State Fort is tied for 49th, shooting an 80 Sunday.

The second round (18 holes) will be played Monday with a final 18 holes being played Tuesday. The top four teams after 54-holes of stroke play will compete in match play on Wednesday (semifinals in the morning and final in the afternoon). The match play winner will be the league championship and earn the league’s automatic berth to an NCAA Regional.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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