UA men hold 2-stroke lead after 1st round

A Razorback head cover sits in a golf bag at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers during practice rounds for the Walmart NWA Arkansas Championship.

The Arkansas men’s golf team overcame a large deficit on the back nine to surge ahead of Kansas after the first round of the Blessings Collegiate Invitational on Monday.

The host Razorbacks, who teed off on No. 10, trailed Kansas but rallied late with 11 birdies on the front nine at Blessings Golf Club to post a 4-under 284, two strokes ahead of the Jayhawks.

On the women’s side, Mississippi State was the only team under par, firing a 1-under 287 to lead Ole Miss by nine shots and Arkansas by 10.

The 54-hole tournament, in its third season at Blessings, features a unique format, which includes teams playing the round together. Individual and team titles are awarded as well as a combined team championship and a best-ball title.

The Razorbacks have won the team titles each of the first two years of the BCI, and Arkansas players Brooke Matthews and Luke Long were medalists last year.

Kansas’ Gunnar Broin is the first-round leader after peppering the 7,700-yard men’s layout with 10 birdies. Broin birdied Nos. 9 through 13 in succession to reach 8-under par before falling back one shot during the final five holes.

He leads the UNLV duo of Caden Fioroni and Yuki Moriyama by two shots. Texas A&M’s Daniel Rodrigues is fourth at 3 under followed by Arkansas senior Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and Kansas’ Davis Cooper at 2 under.

Arkansas seniors Julian Perico and Segundo Oliva Pinto were among four golfers at 1-under 71. Sophomore Manuel Lozada, who shot 72, had a 2-under round going before carding a double bogey on the par-4 4th.

The Razorbacks’ other counting score came from senior Wil Gibson, who was at 2-over 74. Christian Castillo and Matthew Griggs, Arkansas players competing as individuals, shot 73.

On the women’s side, Mississippi State’s Julia Lopez Ramirez shot a 7-under 65 to take a six-stroke lead over the duo of Andrea Lignell of Ole Miss and Adela Cernousek of Texas A&M.

Miriam Ayora led the Arkansas women with a round of 72, while the duo of Kajal Mistry and Julia Gregg carded 3-over 75s. The other counting scores for the Razorbacks came on Giovanna Fernandez’s 77 and Reagan Zibilski’s 79.

Kendall Todd and Meghan Royal, playing as individuals, shot 75 and 76, respectively, for the Razorbacks.

The Arkansas women tee off today at 9:15 from hole No. 10, while the men go out at 11 a.m. from No. 1.