LUBBOCK, Texas - Entering the NCAA Men's Golf Southwest Regional, head coach Greg Sands said the Red Raiders were on the verge of breaking through. Whether coach's intuition or an optimistic outlook, No. 17 Texas Tech turned in a school-postseason record round of 282 and lead the event by nine strokes over second-place Texas.
Tech's record round on the par-71, 7,412-yard University of Texas Golf Club course is one stroke better than a trio of 1-under 287s turned in by the Red Raiders in the 2002 NCAA regionals and championships and the 2005 regional. Those scores were shot on par 72 layouts.
Sands attributed the first-round play to course preparation and the team's effort during practices leading up to the regional, and also alluded to the team's experience with the course.
"We've been working hard on our lag putting, because there are a lot of big, tough greens here," Sands said. "I think our practicing really helped us score well today. We've seen this course quite a bit and were hoping that would give us an advantage. It certainly did today."
Four Red Raiders rank among the top 10 in the individual standings, including redshirt freshman Brian Scherer, who is playing in his second tournament of the spring and fourth of his career. Scherer and sophomore Nils Floren are tied in third place after carding rounds of 1-under 70. Sophomore Chris Ward and senior Garrett Merrell follow tied in sixth place after shooting even par. Senior Santiago Rivas was eight-over and is tied in 51st place.
The Red Raiders carded a 2-under round to open play and lead the 24th-ranked Longhorns, who shot a 7-over 291. No. 8 Florida and No. 5 Stanford are in third and fourth places, respectively, following rounds of 293 and 294.
No. 30 UNLV (296) and No. 41 Lamar (296) are tied in fifth place, and No. 45 Michigan (301), Virginia Tech (302), Mississippi State (305) and No. 32 California (306) hold the six through 10 positions. No. 49 Texas-Arlington (308), New Mexico State (309) and Jackson State (335) round out the field.
"We know there are 36 holes left in this tournament," Sands added, "and although you obviously want to start well, it doesn't do you any good unless you continue to perform at that level."
Round two of the 54-hole event begins Friday morning at 8 a.m.
The top five teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, May 26-30.