NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sam Gatlin shot a career low as he paced Tennessee State to second place after round one of the Big Blue Invitational at the Hermitage Golf Course. Round two was cancelled due to rain and heavy winds. The BBI will resume on Tuesday with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. and is free and open to the public.
Gatlin fired a 3-under, 69, and is second in the individual race, two shots behind Ashton Van Horne of Belmont.
“Sam (Gatlin) looked very comfortable on the course,” said head coach Parrish McGrath. “He was putting the ball in play where he was supposed to, giving him some good chances for birdies.”
Sophomore Jermey Fultz is tied for fourth in the field of 89 golfers, after carding an Even, 72.
The duo helped the TSU post a 7-over, 295, which is three shots behind the tournament leader, Belmont, who entered the clubhouse with a 4-over, 292, as a team.
“Conditions were difficult and were getting worse as the day went on,” McGrath said. “The guys hit the balls well and kept it under the wind as it worsened through the day.”
Gatlin averaged just over one putt per hole as he hit eight fairways and 13 greens resulting in six birdies. The freshman, along with Van Horn, registered the most one-under’s on day one.
On the par-4, 6th, Gatlin hit a 3-wood off the tee and followed with a gap wedge 30 feet past the flag. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. product would drain the lengthy putt for his first birdie of the day.
After scoring pars on seven and eight, Gatlin hit his approach shot to eight feet on the par-4, 9th, setting up his next birdie. Two holes later, the first-year knocked it to 12 feet from 190 out on the par-4, 11th, to continue his run. Gatlin found himself in the woods off the tee at the par-5, 18th. He cut an approach shot 20-yards right to 15 feet of the flag, setting up a two-putt for his fifth birdie.
Drew Owens recorded a 4-over, 76, while Rosario Falzone finished with a 6-over, 78, to score for TSU.
Todd McGill closed out the day with a non-scoring 8-over, 80. Blake Burgett and Myles Rivers played as individuals and finished with a 81 and a 98, respectively.
“We have a lot of work to do tomorrow in the final round,” McGrath commented. “There are no moral victories when you are this close to first place. We have to go out and compete for the title.”