Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. - The Pacific Lutheran University men's golf team is 25th overall after shooting a combined tally of 314 on Tuesday during the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships at the El Campeon Golf Course.
Mitchell Baldridge led the Lutes, shooting a 76. Baldridge's round got off to a sluggish start before he birdied the sixth hole. He finished the front nine at four over. Things got better on the back nine, starting with a birdie on the par five 10th. He would birdie the fifteenth hole, finishing even on the back nine and sitting 53rd overall.
"It's not the start we were hoping for to be honest," Head Coach Kris Swanson said. "We started off rough going 21 over through our first five holes. That's hard to come back from, but in typical fashion when their back is to the wall they play their best."
The rest of the team finished relatively close to each other. Ryan Sturdivan and Kyle Drugge finished the day seven over with a 79 tying for 107th overall. Sturdivan had four birdies on the day. Drugge birdied the fourteenth and finished the back nine one over.
Thomas Huddleston had several solid holes for the Lutes. He had a strong showing on the back nine, accumulating three birdies. He finished the back nine one over, shooting an 80 for the round. Alex Nelson also finished out his round with three birdies, capping the day with an 81.
PLU's tally of 314 is tied with Williams College for 25th overall in the team standings. Huntingdon College sits atop the leaderboard with a team score of 293 with Addison Lambeth leading the way with a three-under 69 to open the tournament.
The Lutes will look to jump up the leaderboard tomorrow, as the top 18 teams will make the cut and continue on to the final two rounds of the tournament.
"We have to match that intensity starting on the first hole," Swanson said. "We have to put together a really good round to make a jump into the top 18. I know they can do it. We will leave it all on the course and if we do us we have a solid chance of making the cut."
PLU returns to action early tomorrow morning, teeing off at 8:20 a.m. local time.