KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Competing in its season opener, the University of Houston golf team used a strong finish to move into second place in the team standings with a score of 293 during the first day of The Invitational at Kiawah Island.
With birdies on two of his last three holes, junior Curtis Reed moved into sole possession of the individual lead with a 1-under-par 71 on the 7,344-yard Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Castroville, Texas, native tallied five birdies in his opening round with four of those coming on his back nine.
Curtis really settled down after his first nine holes," fourth-year head coach Jonathan Dismuke said. "He made a great birdie on No. 1, and that started his side on a positive note. He played some solid golf on the last nine holes. It's always great when you are in the lead, and I look forward to seeing Curtis does on Monday and Tuesday."
Reed was part of an all-around team effort that finished strong on the first day. Four Cougars drained at least one birdie during their final three holes. Sophomore Kyle Pilgrim posted birdies on three of his final four holes, while sophomore Roman Robledo joined Reed with birdies on the seventh and ninth holes to cap his round.
Three players are tied for second at even par, while Pilgrim and senior Will Dusenbury are tied with seven others at 73. Dusenbury finished his round with three straight pars but posted a three on the 543-yard, par-5 second hole for the Cougars' lone eagle of the day.
"Finishing strong is something we stress every day. Our guys did a tremendous job of making birdies on a closing stretch that is really tough," Dismuke said. "This course is demanding, so any time you can make that many birdies on the finishing holes, it's a great thing. You are always climbing the leaderboard when you make birdies down the stretch."
Junior Jesse Droemer was tied for 32nd with a 77, while freshman Blair Hamilton was tied for 69th at 80. Hamilton, w who is making his collegiate debut, started his Cougar career on an impressive note, recording a birdie on the 415-yard, par-4 10th hole.
Florida stood atop the team leaderboard at 289, while host College of Charleston finished the first round in third at 299. UAB (302), USF (303), Davidson (306), Georgia Southern (307, Stephen F. Austin (307) and South Carolina-Aiken (307) rounded out the top-10 leaders.
Low scores were rare on the first day of the 54-hole tournament. After working through Saturday's practice round that saw winds from the south, teams endured light winds from the south during Sunday's first round.
"Conditions were great Sunday much better than the practice round. This course is very demanding and visually intimidating," Dismuke said. "In two days, it played opposite as a course could play, which was a challenge for everyone."
The tournament continues with the second round at 7 a.m. (CDT) Monday with Tuesday's final round slated to start at 6:30 a.m. (CDT).
Fans can follow live scoring by visiting GolfStat.com or by clicking here. Fans also can receive regular Twitter updates by following @UHCougarGolf.
This will be the first of four tournaments in which the Cougars will compete as a team during the fall. From there, the team will take a two-week break from competition before playing at the Shoal Creek Invitational on Sept. 24-25 in Birmingham, Ala.