Sept. 23, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Behind a solid all-around team effort, the University of Houston Men's Golf team posted the two lowest team scores of the day to build a 10-stroke advantage after the first day at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic on Monday evening.
All six Cougars competing at the tournament were ranked among the top-19 individual leaders with four in the top 10. Houston opened with a team score of 282 and followed that with a score of 283 to finish the first 36 holes at 566.
"It was just a good, solid, all-around team effort," said Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke, who is now in his fifth season with the program.
Michigan State (578), Yale (580) and College of Charleston (584) rounded out the top-five team leaders.
Sophomore Blair Hamilton opened the tournament with a 1-under-par 70 on the 7,023-yard layout at the Warren Course, thanks to three birdies, and followed that with his second straight sub-par round to tie for second at 140. The Burlington, Ontario, Canada was tied with two others, one stroke behind Yale's Will Davenport.
Senior Curtis Reed was steady throughout Monday's play. The Castroville, Texas, native birdied two of his final three holes of the day to finish at 1-under-par 141 and tied for fifth. Earlier in the day, Reed was a model of consistency, finishing the first round with one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars in his first round, including each of the final eight holes.
Making his season debut, junior Kyle Pilgrim fired back-to-back 71s and stood in a tie for seventh place at 142. The Colleyville, Texas, native overcame a slow start to post his impressive totals.
Starting his day on No. 9, Pilgrim bogeyed his first hole before nailing an eagle on the 495-yard, par-5 10th hole. Although he finished the last five holes of the back nine at +4, he rallied on the first eight holes of the front nine with three birdies and only one bogey.
Playing as an individual, sophomore Vincent Martino posted only three bogeys through his first 36 holes and was tied for seventh at 142.
Senior James Ross stood in 18th at 145, while junior Roman Robledo was tied for 19th at 146. Robledo tied for the team's low round of the day with a 70 during the opening 18 holes, thanks to two birdies and only one bogey on his scorecard.
"We just played steady all day. Scoring was tough out there, because it's a challenging course," Dismuke said. "You have to be patient and keep the ball in the right spots, and we were able to do that today."
Although the day started with temperatures in the mid-40s, weather improved to near perfect conditions with a slight breeze out of the east.
This marked the fifth consecutive season that the Cougars have competed at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic. Houston has never finished below third place as a team during that time, and the team's familiarity with the course is a major reason for its success.
"The guys feel comfortable on this course, and It's a venue that we really like. We enjoyed this event every year that we have been here," Dismuke said. "You have to be on your game if you want to score out here, so it helps us prepare for the postseason."
The tournament wraps up at 8 a.m., Tuesday with the final 18 holes. The Cougars will be looking for this sixth team title since Dismuke took over for the 2009-10 season.
The Cougars will tee off No. 1 in the final round, starting with Robledo at 9 a.m., and continuing with Ross (9:09 a.m.), Pilgrim (9:18 a.m.), Reed (9:27 a.m.) and Hamilton (9:36 a.m.). Martino will start his day off No. 10 at 8:35 a.m.
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Following the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic, the Cougars wrap up their fall season when they compete at the David Toms Intercollegiate, hosted by LSU at The University Club in Baton Rouge, La. It will be the team's fourth and final event of the fall.
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