Sept. 15, 2013
BURLINGTON, Iowa - University of Houston junior Roman Robledo led four Cougars among the top-25 individual leaders following the first round at the Golfweek Conference Challenge on Sunday afternoon.
With a 1-under-par 71, Robledo stood in a tie for third and was joined in the top 20 by teammates Blair Hamilton (t-11th, 72); Wesley McClain and Curtis Reed (t-18th, 73) on the 7,301-yard, par-72 course at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
As a team, the Cougars held the first-day lead with a score of 1-over-par 289. Houston stood one stroke ahead of Oklahoma and New Mexico and three strokes in front of Virginia Tech. Jacksonville State (293), Winthrop (295), Central Arkansas (296), Arizona (297), host Iowa (298), Florida Gulf Coast (300) and LSU (300) rounded out the top-11 teams.
It marked the second straight tournament in which the Cougars held the first-day lead. A week ago, Houston stood atop the leaderboard at the Northern Intercollegiate before eventually finishing third.
"I am pleased with our overall performance," said Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke, who is in his fifth year with the program. "We didn't get off to the best start, but we hung in there and made some birdies down the stretch. We will address some things and get ready for Tuesday."
Robledo is looking for his third individual title in his last four outings after winning the 2013 Conference USA Championships title in late April and the Northern Intercollegiate last week to open the fall campaign.
The Harlingen, Texas, native played bogey-free golf with a birdie through his first 15 holes. After a bogey on No. 16, he capped his day with a birdie on the 545-yard, par-5 18th hole.
"Roman played a solid round," Robledo said. "It was a steady, solid performance all day."
The three-day, 54-hole event runs through Tuesday and continues with the second round at 9 a.m., Monday. The Cougars will go off No. 1 on Monday, beginning with James Ross at 10:30 a.m., and continuing with McClain (10:39 a.m.); Reed (10:48 a.m.); Hamilton (10:57 a.m.) and Robledo (11:06 a.m.).
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Hamilton tied for 16th with 72, thanks to three birdies in his opening round, including back-to-back birdies on No. 11 and No. 12.
Reed and McClain were tied for 23rd after posting 73s on Sunday. Reed drained three birdies with only one bogey through the first 12 holes before running into trouble midway through his back nine. However, the Castroville, Texas, native rebounded with his fourth and final birdie of the day on the 16th hole.
McClain overcame a shaky front nine that saw him finish with a 5-over-par 41. Fortunately, the three-year letterman and Diboll Texas, native played bogey-free golf on his back nine and added four birdies.
"Wes' back nine was a key round for us. He looked out of it early but battled back on the back nine, which was playing much more difficult," Dismuke said. "That was a huge comeback for us and a great effort out of Wes."
Making his season debut, Ross led the Cougars with five birdies in his opening round, including two during the final three holes. The Edinburgh, Scotland, native stood in a tie for 47th with a 76 in his first collegiate action since the NCAA Athens Regional on May 19, 2012.
Following the Golfweek Conference Challenge, the Cougars will compete at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic for the fifth straight season. A year ago, the Cougars tied for second at this event with four individuals among the top-21 leaders.
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