SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Cole Sherwood was first off the tee for the Vanderbilt men’s golf team on Friday, and the junior wasted little time setting the tone for the Commodores at the NCAA Championships.
The junior carded a team-high six birdies, including four over his final six holes, for a first-round 4-under par 66, with the effort helping Vandy close out the opening day of the tournament tied for fourth in the team standings with a 2-over-par 282 total.
Reid Davenport shot an even-par 70 and Gordon Sargent supplied a 71, with William Moll and Matthew Riedel recording scores of 75 and 77, respectively.
“We knew it was important to get off to a good start, I’m proud of how we battled. That’s important in any tournament but especially in this one, it’s a marathon and we’re trying to play the long game,” head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “I thought we showed a lot of toughness and discipline staying with our plan throughout the day, the guys hung in there.”
Opening on the 10th hole of the par-70, 7,289-yard Grayhawk Golf Club, Sherwood had one birdie and one bogey over first nine holes to make the turn at even par, and he followed a three at the 395-yard second with another bogey. But he responded with a birdie on No. 4, then recorded three straight beginning on the sixth for a 31 on his back nine and his lowest round of the spring semester.
Davenport, playing immediately behind Sherwood, posted back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 and added another on the second for his first round at or below par this postseason. Sargent closed with birdies on the seventh and eight holes as well, while Riedel added a pair of birdies on the day.
“Cole Sherwood has been trying to make it happen, and it finally happened today. That was big for him and obviously huge for our team,” Limbaugh said. “I didn’t get to see a ton of it, but it looked to me like he stuck with his plan and got some putts to drop. He’s been trying to force good golf, and it looked like today he allowed great golf to happen.
“Reid was really big today, for he and Cole to go out there leading the charge in an afternoon round and get this thing going was important for our team. It’s why we believe in him so much and we’re happy he’s on our team. And Gordon really allowed a finish to happen, he made a couple of great putts on Nos. 7 and 8.”
Georgia Tech took the lead with an even-par 280, and is one stroke ahead of both Arkansas and Pepperdine. The Dores are tied with North Carolina and Texas Tech. The Yellowjackets’ Ross Steelman recorded a 6-under-par 64 and is two shots in front of Sherwood and two other players in the individual standings.
The Commodores will once again play with Illinois and North Carolina in the second round, with the three teams starting on No. 1 at 8:10 a.m. CT Saturday. Live scoring for the event can be found HERE.
“I think we’ll be better, I really do,” said Limbaugh. “The scoreboard is one thing, but there are some things we have to improve on. We did some things a little loosely, but we know who all these guys are. We just need to be up and ready to go tomorrow.
“This week is about everybody, we need to have more people doing the right things. People stepped up today, we need more people to step up tomorrow.”
The top 15 teams and top nine individuals not from one of those programs will advance to Monday’s final round of stroke play.