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Sooners open with strong round

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Oklahoma men’s golf team is in the mix at the top of the leaderboard after round one at the NCAA Championship. The Sooners posted an even-par 280 on Friday to grab a share of fourth after 18 holes. OU (T4, E) sits eight shots ahead of 15th, which the field will be cut to after Sunday’s third round, and six shots in front of eighth as eight teams advance to match play following Monday’s round. Top-ranked and No. 2-seeded Oklahoma was one of five teams that sit even-par or better following the first day at the par-70 Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor Course.

“We did what we needed to do to get out to a good start today,” 12th-year head coach Ryan Hybl said. “We got two really big rounds from a couple of our vets in Quade (Cummins) and Jonathan (Brightwell) that helped even things out. I think today showed that getting under-par is out there for our guys and we’ll have to play well again tomorrow.”

Jonathan Brightwell (T5, -2) picked up where he left off in Friday’s opening round. Fresh off a runner-up finish at the NCAA Albuquerque Regional, the redshirt senior posted a 68 (-2) in his first NCAA Championship round.

“I’m at a really good spot with my game right now,” Brightwell said. “I had some really good shots out there today that gave me some chances, and then I had a few shots that I let loose and was able to recover from. I just need to focus on staying patient because this is such a long championship. As a team, we’ve got to take it one shot at a time and then see where we end up.”

The All-American transfer from UNC-Greensboro opened his championship with three birdies over his first five holes and added two more birdies on his first four holes after making the turn. He closed with a pair of bogeys to tally his eighth round in the 60s of the year. Brightwell, ranked No. 13 in the PGA Tour U ranking, sunk five birdies on the day, second-most in the field.

Following Brightwell on the leaderboard was fellow All-American Quade Cummins, who entered the week No. 6 in the PGA Tour U rankings. Cummins (T17, -1) shot the 29th par-or-better opening round of his career and seventh in his last eight events.

“Just two massive rounds today from Quade and JB,” Hybl added. “We know that we can’t win if our older guys don’t play well and so it was really good to see them play under-par this afternoon.”

Freshman Ben Lorenz (T43, +1) fired a 71 to match the third-lowest round of his season. The Peoria, Ariz., native is making just his third start in the lineup this week after subbing into the starting five at the Albuquerque Regional. Lorenz led the Sooners with 14 pars on the day, good for sixth in the 155-player field.

Oklahoma City product, Logan McAllister (T55, +2), used two birdies to move back to even-par thru 13 holes, but bogeys on his final two holes moved him back into a tie for 55th at 2-over.

McAllister and Cummins were two of just six players to shoot 2-under on the par-five holes, the best mark in the field.

All-American Garett Reband (T119, +6) collected three birdies on the day but carded a pair of double-bogeys to grab a share of 121st after day one.

The Sooners tee off at 6:10 a.m. MST (8:10 CT) in Saturday’s second round with Florida State (6th, +1) and Oklahoma State (T3, E).

“We go off early tomorrow, which will hopefully be good to us,” Hybl added. “The greens might be a little bit softer, but at the end of the day you have to go and execute shots. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you play, if you don’t shoot well out here, it’ll get you into trouble.”

The Big 12 proved again that it’s one of the best conferences for collegiate golf in the nation, as three of the league’s five-contending teams, including the Sooners, sit inside the top four on the leaderboard and four Big 12 golfers own a spot inside the top 10.

Spectators are permitted based on local/state guidelines, which are subject to change. It is requested that spectators wear masks and follow physical distancing protocols, including remaining at least 15 yards away from student-athletes, coaches and other team personnel. Spectators must also keep distanced from tee boxes and greens. The event is free of charge.

The NCAA Men’s Golf Championship consist of three days of stroke play on Friday thru Sunday (54 holes) with the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team moving on. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on Monday to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play and the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by match play. The Golf Channel will broadcast the individual championship round on Monday, and the match-play rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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