Oct. 7, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Battling the cold and the rain, the University of Houston golf team continued its recent stellar play of late and held a share of the first-round lead at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic.
With a team score of 287, the Cougars - who are ranked No. 38 nationally in the latest GolfStat rankings - were tied with Michigan State through the first 18 holes. With a double-digit winds blowing, wind-chill temperatures on the 7,023-yard, par71 Warren Course felt like the lower 40s all day and were part of a 30-minute delay midway through the round.
While the conditions were brutal, the Cougars were prepared to fight the elements.
"It was one of the toughest rounds that we have played in a long time. It rained and was windy all day and was just a nasty all-around round," fourth-year head coach Jonathan Dismuke said. "We knew it was coming, and we did a good job of grinding through and it getting through it the best we could."
Junior Curtis Reed birdied three of his last four holes to post a sparking 69 and grab a share of the first-round lead. The Castroville, Texas, native led the Cougars with six birdies during his round and was tied with UT Arlington's Paul McConnell through the first 18 holes.
Reed birdied the par-5 10th hole to open his back nine but gave that stroke back with a bogey on the par-4, 12th hole. After consecutive pars on 13 and 14, he posted back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 and capped his day with his final birdie on the par 4, 18th hole.
"Curtis had a great finish to his round, and he played spectacular golf coming in. It was tough out there," Dismuke said. "In conditions like this, everyone will make mistakes. You just have to battle through it and forgive yourself. You have to let go of those mistakes and give yourself a chance to perform, and Curtis did a great job of doing that."
Reed was part of a stellar effort by the Cougars, who put three student-athletes among the top-11 individual leaders. Junior Wesley McClain was steady throughout the day on the way to an even-par 71 to tie for sixth and provided the Cougars' lone eagle of the day on the par-5 10th hole to open his back nine.
Sophomore Kyle Pilgrim returned to the Cougars' lineup this weekend and was tied for 11th at 71. Posting a pair of birdies on the back nine, the Colleyville, Texas, native would have finished higher on the first-day leaderboard but endured a double bogey 6 on his final hole of the day.
"These guys have worked extremely hard and are starting to come into their own a bit," Dismuke said. "There is a different feel with this team from previous seasons. They have their sights set on doing some big things this year, and it's going to be fun to watch."
This is the Cougars' third fall tournament of the season with the squad finishing among the top-three team leaders in each of the previous two events.
UT Arlington stood in third place at 288, while San Francisco finished fourth at 292. Toledo (294), Xavier (295), Minnesota (296), UNC Wilmington (296), Michigan (297) and Boston College (298) rounded out the top-10 team leaders.
The Cougars continue their stay at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic with the second round on Monday. Monday's tee times have been pushed back to 9:30 a.m., (CDT) due to the threat of overnight frost. Fans can follow Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic live scoring by visiting GolfStat.com or by clicking here. Fans also can receive regular Twitter updates by following @UHCougarGolf.
In addition, four Cougars will take part as individuals at the Harold Funston Invitational, hosted by Sam Houston State at Raven Nest Golf Club. That event begins at Monday morning with the first 36 holes and the final 18 holes to be played Tuesday on the 6,943-yard, par-71 course.
A year ago, the Cougars tied with St. Mary's (Calif.) for first among 12 teams at this tournament.
HAROLD FUNSTON INVITATIONAL
This will not be the Cougars' only competition this week. Senior Will Dusenbury, junior Bryn Flanagan and freshmen Andrew Ertel and Blair Hamilton will represent Houston at the Harold Funston Invitational.
Ertel made his collegiate debut at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate where he finished 57th, while Hamilton made his first appearance in the Scarlet and White at The Invitational at Kiawah, finishing in a tie for 48th.
Dusenbury, who was the 2010 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year, tied for 48th at The Invitational at Kiawah, while Flanagan will make his season debut.
At the Funston Invitational, the Cougars will square off against players from Texas-Pan American, Texas-Brownsville, Baylor, North Dakota State, Texas Southern, Jacksonville, Tyler Junior College and host Sam Houston State.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE
Following the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic and the Harold Funston Invitational, the Cougars will compete as a team for the last time during the fall season at the Lone Star Intercollegiate on Oct. 14-16. That event will be hosted by UTSA at Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas.