MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – The Tennessee State men’s golf team fired a 21-over, 309, during the first day of play at the Ohio Valley Conference Championship. The showing has the Tigers tied with Eastern Illinois for eighth place and is one stroke out of seventh, 12 behind third place Murray State.
Jacksonville State holds the team lead with a 2-over, 290, just ahead of UT Martin at 5-over, 293.
UTM’s Hunter Richardson carded a 3-under, 69, for the top spot on the individual’s board. Richardson heads into the second round with a one stroke lead over Daniel Pico of JSU.
The Tigers Jermey Fultz shot the low score at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Fighting Joe course, which is playing as a 7,258 yard, Par-72. Fultz is in 16th place with a 3-over, 75, on Monday. The sophomore sat at 2-over as he made the turn and was 4-over until a birdie at the par-5, 17th.
Fultz hit his 4-iron just short of the green on 17 and chipped up to three feet of the hole for the makeable putt. The Knoxville, Tenn. native hit 13 greens and eight fairways on the day, leading to 13 pars, third most from the field.
Sam Gatlin got off to a great start in his first OVC Championship appearance with nine pars and two birdies through the first 12 holes. The freshman sank a 20 foot uphill putt to save par on the par-4, 16th, and was Even heading to No. 17. Gatlin ran into trouble over the final two holes to finish at 5-over and in 33rd.
Gatlin finished the first day of the three day event with the best score of all golfers on the 10 par-4’s. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. product topped the field at 2-under, a stroke better than tournament leader, Richardson.
The first-year hit 12-of-14 fairways and found 14 greens while using well under two putts per hole. Gatlin moved to 1-under on the par-4, 4th, as he hit a 3-wood off the tee to 105 out hit and struck a sand wedge to six feet of the flag. Gatlin made the turn at Even and wasted no time getting back to 1-under with a birdie on the par-4, 10th. He hit his drive to 200 yards out before hitting a 4-iron to 15 feet of the flag to set up the birdie putt.
Drew Owens got off to a slow start on Monday as he headed into the par-5, 7th. Owens collected his lone birdie of the day to get to 3-over. The freshman carded six pars over the final nine holes to score for the Tigers with a 6-over, 78.
Todd McGill posted the final scoring mark for TSU as he hit nine fairways and nine greens to post a 7-over, 79. McGill registered the first of his two birdies of the round on No. 4 by knocking a wedge to 15 feet. On the par-4, 11th, the junior sank a 25-footer for his second one-under of the day.
Rosario Falzone entered the clubhouse with a non-scoring 14-over, 86, as he hit 12-of-14 fairways, 11 greens and used 36 putts.
Falzone will be the first Tiger on the course as he tees off at 8:50 a.m. The Tigers will play the second round with EIU and Morehead State. McGill is the nest on the course at 9:00 a.m. and will be followed by Owens at 9:10 a.m. and Gatlin at 9:20 a.m. Fultz will be the last Tiger on the course with a 9:30 a.m. start.