Early during the 2023 baseball season, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn was …
Hogs in 2nd place after first day of NCAA golf championship
Arkansas golfer Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during an NCAA golf tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Johnson. (AP Photo/Michael Woods).
What already looked to be a strong opening day for Arkansas at the NCAA men’s golf tournament got better and better as the last of the 30 teams finished at Grayhawk Golf Club late Friday.
The Razorbacks posted a 1-over 281 in the first of potentially four rounds of stroke play in Scottsdale, Ariz., sitting in a tie for second place with Pepperdine.
Georgia Tech leads at even-par 280, with North Carolina, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt all tied for fourth at 2-over 282 — one shot back of Arkansas and Pepperdine.
“I think it was a great start. To have two guys [Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira and Wil Gibson] shoot 66 and 67, on this golf course, was truly remarkable,” Arkansas Coach Brad McMakin said. “Obviously, we would have liked to avoid some of the bigger numbers, but that is going to happen out here.”
Fernandez de Oliveira's 4-under 66 was the highlight of the day for the Razorbacks as the Argentinian senior heads into today’s second round in second place in the individual standings, two shots off the lead.
Georgia Tech’s Ross Steelman posted a 6-under 64 to lead the field — two shots clear of Fernandez de Olivera, New Mexico’s Matthew Watkins and Vanderbilt’s Cole Sherwood.
Fernandez de Oliveira, after opening with two pars, recorded birdies on Nos. 3, 4 and 6 en route to a 2-under 33 on the front nine. He then closed with two birdies sandwiched around what he termed “a really good bogey” on the par-4 17th, giving Arkansas its low round of the day.
“I got off to a really good start and that gave me a lot of confidence that I was able to take with me on through the round,” he said. “Playing in the desert, you have to stay patient and keep a level head. You can get really good breaks or you may have to take an unplayable [penalty].”
Just behind the trio of players at 4-under is Gibson, who posted a 3-under 67 for sole possession of fifth place. The Jonesboro native made three birdies in his first seven holes, and, like Fernandez de Oliveira, closed with a birdie on the 520-yard par-4 18th.
“I had a few times where the round could have gotten away from me, but I was able to work through those situations,” Gibson said. “Overall, I was very happy with how I played and how I was able to fight through on a tough course like this.”
The Razorbacks’ opening-round total was dragged down slightly as Julian Perico and Segundo Oliva Pinto each posted scores of 4-over par 74, and Manuel Lozada had a 6-over 76. Perico and Pinto are tied for 87th, while Lozada is tied for 115th in a field of 156 players.
SEC teams Florida (3-over 283, 7th), Georgia (5-over 285, tied for 9th), Auburn (8-over 288, 14th) and Texas A&M (9-over 289, tied for 15th) also sit among the top 15 teams.
Those in the top half of the field will make the cut for Monday’s fourth round of stroke play before the eight lowest-scoring teams advance to match play Tuesday.
“You are going to hit a ball in the desert, but you have to just find a way how to minimize your mistakes,” McMakin said. “I think, this being our third year out here, we know how to do that.”
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