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Freshman Tim McKenney sparked the Gators with a career-best 66 on Wednesday.

Wednesday May 30, 2007McKenney's Career Best Has Men's Golf In The Hunt At NCAA Championships

Williamsburg, VA

Freshman Tim McKenney sparked the Gators with a career-best 66 on Wednesday.

Led by a career-best 66 (-4) from freshman Tim McKenney (Scottsdale, Ariz.), the seventh-ranked University of Florida men’s golf team posted its third-best round of the season to tie for second at the conclusion of day one of the 2007 NCAA Championships. The Gators’ two-under 278 positioned them in a tie for third with Texas and Minnesota, just three strokes off the pace set by second-ranked Stanford, and represented their second-consecutive below-par round at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, dating back to October’s Preview Invitational.

 

“There’s a saying in golf that you can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it, and we certainly didn’t do that today,” Florida head coach Buddy Alexander said. “We got off to a good start, and made a lot of putts. It was definitely nice to get going with a good round and have a positive start to build on.”

 

McKenney opened his round with a first-hole birdie and a double-bogey on the second before exploding for six birdies in an 11-hole stretch from Nos. 3-13 that sent him to five under for the day. After a bogey on No. 14 brought him back to four shots below par, he rebounded for four-straight pars to finish the day in second place with the best score of his young collegiate career. The effort tied him with five Gators, including teammate Billy Horschel (Grant, Fla.) and PGA Tour stars Camilo Villegas and Dudley Hart, for the sixth-lowest round by a freshman in school history in terms of score. Wednesday’s 66 was also the second time this season that McKenney finished a round four strokes below the standard, having put up a previous career-best 68 in the first round of the Chris Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational in March.

 

“Tim was huge for us today,” Alexander said. “He had been a little off during the spring, but he got something to click today and he made a lot of nice putts. If you want to win a championship, you need someone to step up big each day, and Tim was that guy for us this afternoon.”

 

Junior Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Colombia) was also solid for the Gators on Wednesday, birdying five holes on the day en route to finishing with an even-par 70. After a rough start that included a bogey and a double in his first four holes, Villegas bounced back to circle his number on three of the last four holes before the turn. He sandwiched bogeys on 11 and 12 with birdies on the 10th and 13th holes to remain at even par, then brought his round home with five-straight pars. His first-round 70, which marked Villegas’ third round at par or better at Golden Horseshoe this season, will send the Gators’ No. 2 player into the second round in a tie for 29th.

 

Junior Tyler Brown (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) played the most consistent golf of the day for UF, making par on 15 holes in the first round. He combated bogeys on holes 10 and 17 with a birdie on No. 14, and finished the day in a 51st-place tie with a one-over 71. Horschel came out blazing with three birdies on the front nine, and made the turn two under before running into trouble on the back half and finishing the day with the same score and placing as Brown. Sophomore Toby Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla.) added a two-over 72 that featured three-straight birdies from holes 11-13, and concluded play in a tie for 66th.

 

“We played smart, consistent golf today, and it showed in our scores,” Alexander said. “We’re throwing out a 72, and that’s only two over par. You can do a lot worse than that, especially at the NCAA Championships. It was great to see five guys hang right in there all day and play a solid round as a group.”

 

Stanford used a first-round best 64 (-6) from Rob Grube to take the 18-hole lead with a team total 275 (-5), while Coastal Carolina grabbed second place with an opening-round 277 (-3). Florida, UCLA and Southern California will begin play on the 10th tee at 7:20 a.m. EST on Thursday. Scoring will be done live on the Internet at www.golfstat.com, and can also be accessed at www.gatorzone.com.

 

Team Scores Through Round One

Place

School

Score

1.

Stanford

275 (-5)

2.

Coastal Carolina

277 (-3)

T3.

FLORIDA

278 (-2)

T3.

Minnesota

278 (-2)

T3.

Texas

278 (-2)

6.

Charlotte

279 (-1)

7.

East Tennessee State

280 (E)

8.

Georgia

282 (+2)

T9.

Michigan State

283 (+3)

T9.

UCLA

283 (+3)

T9.

Florida State

283 (+3)

T12.

Alabama

284 (+4)

T12.

Tulsa

284 (+4)

T12.

Vanderbilt

284 (+4)

T12.

Tennessee

284 (+4)

16.

Lamar

285 (+5)

T17.

Arizona State

286 (+6)

T17.

Georgia State

286 (+6)

19.

Oklahoma State

287 (+7)

T20.

Georgia Tech

288 (+8)

T20.

Louisville

288 (+8)

T22.

North Carolina

289 (+9)

T22.

Southern California

289 (+9)

24.

Arizona

290 (+10)

25.

South Carolina

291 (+11)

T26.

New Mexico

293 (+13)

T26.

Texas Tech

293 (+13)

T26.

Wake Forest

293 (+13)

29.

Duke

294 (+14)

30.

Auburn

295 (+15)

 

Individual Top-10 Through Round One

Place

Player

Score

1.

Rob Grube (Stanford)

64 (-6)

2.

TIM McKENNEY (FLORIDA)

66 (-4)

T3.

Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina)

67 (-3)

T3.

Bronson LaCassie (Minnesota)

67 (-3)

T3.

Matthew Savage (Florida State)

67 (-3)

T3.

Cameron Tringale (Georgia Tech)

67 (-3)

T7.

Matt Bortis (Texas)

68 (-2)

T7.

Andrew DiBitetto (Charlotte)

68 (-2)

T7.

Tom Glissmeyer (Southern California)

68 (-2)

T7.

Chris Kirk (Georgia)

68 (-2)

T7.

Lucas Lee (UCLA)

68 (-2)

T7.

Ben Pisani (Minnesota)

68 (-2)

T7.

Joel Sjoholm (Georgia State)

68 (-2)

T7.

Zach Sucher (UAB)

68 (-2)

 

Florida Results Through Round One

Place

Player

Score

2.

Tim McKenney

66 (-4)

T29.

Manuel Villegas

70 (E)

T51.

Tyler Brown

71 (+1)

T51.

Billy Horschel

71 (+1)

T66.

Toby Ragland

72 (+2)

 

 

 

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