VICTORIA – Day 1 of the AII Golf Championships in Chesterton, Indiana, saw the UBC Thunderbirds jump out to early leads in both men’s and women’s competition with the University of Victoria in pursuit.
The Vikes men’s and women’s teams enter Day 2 in second place behind by margins of one and 19 strokes, respectively. A win at the event would guarantee either team a spot in their respective NAIA Championship in mid-May.
Poor weather caused the second round of the day to be postponed, meaning both the men and women played 18 holes. The men will play 36 holes on Tuesday to close out the tournament while the women will play their usual 18 holes.
“The weather was much drier today compared to yesterday’s practice round, although much windier,” said head coach Justin Clews. “Winds were 15-20 kms for the first half of the round and then increased to 30-35 kms for the last half of the round. The course was still wet in places, but the greens were in good shape.”
Third year Lawren Rowe led the way for the Vikes men, tying UBC’s Jack Wood for the top score of the day with an even 72. Rowe, who has won four individual titles so far this year for the Vikes, showed up in full force once again.
“Although he was somewhat displeased with his ball striking today, Lawren was able to put together a nice round at even par” said Clews. “We’ve put ourselves in a nice position heading into tomorrow’s 36 hole finish only one stroke back of UBC.”
Second year Jake Hamilton had a spectacular opening round for the Vikes, pulling up behind Rowe with a one-over-par 73. Hamilton finished the day in a tie for third with a tough opponent in UBC’s Andrew Harrison, who sits 16th in the NAIA this season with an average score of 72.27.
“I was very pleased with Jake’s opening round today,” said Clews. “He was very calm and collected out there and hit a lot of quality golf shots.”
Rookie Brandon McManus and Jacob Hayes both finished in the top 14 along with third year Mike Griffin. McManus sits in a tie for fifth after registering a two-over-par 74 while Griffin and Hayes followed with a five-over-par 77 and a six-over-par 78, respectively.
The women’s team was led by fourth year Laura Ferreira, who continued to lead by example with a six-over-par 78 to finish the day in fourth. Ferreira, who has been a key contributor all season, was forced to battle tough weather conditions on her way to posting an above-average round.
“The girls were really solid out of gate this morning for their first nine to 12 holes with most of them at or close to par,” said Clews. “Unfortunately, they gave quite a few shots back on their inward nine holes, likely due to the windier conditions.”
Third year Hannah Diamond and second year Nicole Gargarella finished the day in fifth and seventh with scores of seven-over-par 79 and 10-over-par 82, respectively. Rookie Rhiannon Jones and second year Quinn Fitzgerald also finished in the top ten after shooting rounds of 84 and 87, respectively.
“We are quite a few shots behind UBC heading into tomorrow but with wind again in the forecast again for the second and final round, anything can happen over 18 holes,” said Clews. “I anticipate the girls to bounce back tomorrow and finish their final round with a stronger finish.”
Day 2 gets started on Tuesday morning with the weather forecast calling for clouds and a 30 per cent chance of precipitation. Wind is once again expected to be a big factor with gusts predicted to be blowing at 59 km an hour in the morning.
2 – VICTORIA VIKES MEN (295)
T1 – Lawren Rowe (72)
T3 – Jake Hamilton (73)
T5 – Brandon McManus (74)
T10 – Mike Griffin (77)
T14 – Jacob Hayes (78)
2 – VICTORIA VIKES WOMEN (323)
4 – Laura Ferreira (78)
T5 – Hannah Diamon (79)
7 – Nicole Gargarella (82)
9 – Rhiannon Jones (84)
10 – Quinn Fitzgerald (87)