STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — James White shot a 5-under 67 on Tuesday to power Georgia Tech to a three-stroke lead after the first round of the NCAA men’s golf championships.
The No. 4-ranked Yellow Jackets shot a 5-under 283 at Karsten Creek Golf Club. Second-ranked UCLA was next, followed by No. 3 Alabama in third with an even-par 288.
Oklahoma State, which has been ranked No. 1 all season and is playing on its home course, is eighth, nine strokes off the lead. Defending champion Augusta State sits in ninth.
White birdied five of the first nine holes, including a 35-foot putt on the par-4 No. 5. He also made birdie putts on Nos. 14, 16 and 18. The junior leads Texas A&M’s Cameron Peck by one, and Patrick Reed of Augusta State in Georgia and J.J. Spaun of San Diego State are two strokes back at 69.
Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler almost pulled his team off the course because of windy conditions during Monday’s practice round. Following the strong first day, he was sure glad he left his players alone.
“Oklahoma State quit after 9, and I thought about it,” Heppler said. “I thought by playing yesterday, we played as hard as (the course) was ever going to play, and we played really well. I thought playing when it was really hard was a good thing because they knew could still hit good shots.”
Tuesday’s first round was played with virtually no wind and in nearly perfect conditions, which led to 20 sub-par rounds on the par-72, 7,416-yard layout.
“I hit a lot of fairways and that made it easier,” said White, who won two tournaments during the 2010-11 season and tied for second at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago. “It’s a tough golf course. I mean, I was sweating over every shot. I just knew that I was one shot away from a double bogey at all times.
“I just hope I didn’t use up all my birdies today. We have a long ways to go.”
The top eight teams in the 30-team field advance to match play after 54 holes, beginning Friday. The team championship will be decided Sunday.
The individual champion will be determined after Thursday’s round.