BURLINGTON, Iowa – LSU junior Stewart Jolly continued his hot start to the 2013 fall season by firing a team-best even-par 72 in Sunday’s opening round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge as the No. 9-ranked Tigers finished the day in a tie for 10th place in the team standings in the event being held at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
Jolly wrapped up the afternoon in a tie for 11th place on the leaderboard and just three shots out of the lead with two rounds to play in the fifth-annual event.
The Birmingham, Ala., native kicked off his junior season a week ago by tying for third place at the prestigious Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic with a season-opening tournament score of 5-under par 211. He picked up right where he left off on Sunday while leading the Tigers to a team score of 12-over par 300 on the day.
Ball State’s Tyler Merkel fired the round of the day with a 3-under 69 to take an early one-shot lead over New Mexico’s Victor Perez at 2-under 70 and eight other golfers with scores of 1-under 71 on the leaderboard.
The Tigers finished the day in a tie for 10th place with Florida Gulf Coast as each team posted an 18-hole score of 12-over 300 during Sunday’s action. The Tigers are only 11 shots off the pace with two rounds to play this week as the Houston Cougars have taken the early lead with a team score of 1-over 289. New Mexico and Oklahoma follow in a tie for second place in the 15-team field with matching scores of 2-over 290 while Virginia Tech follows in fourth place at 4-over 292 and Jacksonville State rounds out the top five in fifth place at 5-over 293.
Rounding out the team scoring for the Tigers with the first round were junior All-American Curtis Thompson with a 3-over 75 to tie for 37th place, freshman Brandon Pierce with a 4-over 76 to tie for 45th place and senior Smylie Kaufman with a 5-over 77 to tie for 52nd place among the 75 golfers in the field. Pierce’s 4-over 76 came in his collegiate debut with the Tigers on Sunday.
Also competing as part of LSU’s five-man lineup for the Golfweek Conference Challenge is sophomore Zach Wright, who finished the day with a round of 11-over 83 to tie for 73rd place overall.
The Tigers are paired with Ball State and Florida Gulf Coast in Monday’s second round and will tee off from the back nine beginning at 9 a.m. CT. Live scoring of the second and third rounds at the fifth-annual Golfweek Conference Challenge will be provided by Golfstat and can be found online at www.golfstat.com.
GOLFWEEK CONFERENCE CHALLENGE – FIRST ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 288)
1. Houston 289 +1; T2. New Mexico 290 +2; T2. Oklahoma 290 +2; 4. Virginia Tech 292 +4; 5. Jacksonville State 293 +5; 6. Winthrop 295 +7; 7. Central Arkansas 296 +8; 8. Arizona 297 +9; 9. Iowa 298 +10; T10. LSU 300 +12; T10. Florida Gulf Coast 300 +12; 12. Ball State 303 +15; 13. Chattanooga 305 +17; 14. Louisiana Tech 306 +18; 15. Texas State 310 +22.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 72)
1. Tyler Merkel, Ball State, 69 -3; 2. Victor Perez, New Mexico, 70 -2; T3. Keegan McKinney, Ball State, 71 -1; T3. Alex McMahon, Arizona, 71 -1; T3. Roman Robledo, Houston, 71 -1; T3. Richard Farmer, Central Arkansas, 71 -1; T3. Pablo Torres, Jacksonville State, 71 -1; T3. James Newton, Central Arkansas, 71 -1; T3. Taylor Dickson, Winthrop, 71 -1; T3. Gavin Green, New Mexico, 71 -1.