Forty-mile-per-hour winds provided less than ideal conditions for the opening day of the NAIA men's golf national championship hosted May 16-19 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. University of Victoria Vikes men's golfer Lawren Rowe, qualified as an individual, finished his first of four rounds at 2-over, 73.
Rowe teed off on the back nine and started his game strong with six-straight pars. On the 16th hole Rowe hit a nice pitching wedge shot on a par-3 and drained a four-foot putt to earn his first birdie of the day. That putt set the stage for three more birdies including recovering from an errant tee shot on the 18th by sinking a 20-foot putt for one of four birdies on the day.
"I was pretty pleased with the way Lawren started his round today," said Justin Clews, Vikes golf head coach, who was by Rowe's side all day. "He executed quite well hitting a lot of greens on his outward nine. The wind progressively got stronger in the afternoon and unfortunately Lawren made a few bogeys coming in. His scorecard was pretty tidy in those conditions with a lot of pars."
Things got difficult as Rowe closed out his first round on the front nine with four bogies and shot 2-over-par on his final three holes. Conditions made club choices difficult and Rowe overshot the green on the third hole, a par-3, and a miss-club resulted in his first bogey of the day.
"I was fairly disappointed in how I played today," said Rowe, who entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. "I didn't give myself a lot of close birdie looks but I was happy with now I stayed mentally focused in the windy conditions through the round."
The second of four rounds is set for May 17. Morning tee times begin at 7:30 a.m., while afternoon tee times begin at 12:00 p.m. The field will be cut to the top 17 teams and 40 individuals (including ties) after 54 holes. For more information on the championship visit naia.org.