MIRAMAR, Fla. - Despite playing its final five holes in a driving rainstorm and finishing its round on, arguably, the toughest hole on the course, the UT Arlington men's golf team sits just one shot off the lead after the first day of competition at the Sun Belt Conference Championships at Ravin Golf Club at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.
UTA went into its final hole with a slim lead over playing partner Texas State, but, like many of the teams, went 7-over as a team on 460-yard, par 4 No. 9 to finish the day at 11-over par. The Mavericks are tied with South Alabama for second place, one stroke behind first day leader Coastal Carolina. CCU and USA were among the six teams that were fortunate enough to conclude their rounds before the rain began.
"We probably got the worst end of the draw, by finishing on nine - historically the most difficult hole on the golf course - and the rain and wind starting up as we were coming down the stretch," said UTA director of golf Stuart Deane. "The guys hung in there really nice. The guys are happy. I'm happy. We are in a good spot.
"It is easy to go out on the first day and shoot a bad score. Especially when you get on the wrong side of the draw and end up having to chase. We are in a good position for tomorrow. It should be great weather, back to normal, and the guys feel like they are playing great."
The field returns to Raven GC, which is scheduled to play at a slightly longer 6,879 yards, tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. (CST). UTA is paired with golfers from Coastal Carolina and South Alabama and will begin with Jake Greenspoon going off the first tee at 8:15 a.m.
UTA led the field in par 3 scoring. With a 2.92 average and a 2-under aggregate score, the Mavericks were the only team in the field to register an under par average over the five par 3 holes. Three UTA golfers registered an under par average.
Freshman Paul Gonzalez (Waxahachie, Texas) and senior Aaron Guanlao (Haslet, Texas) were the top two UTA finishers on the day, each carding a 1-over par 72 and finishing in a tie for seventh place in the 60-golfer field.
Guanlao registered one of the most consistent rounds of his collegiate career with two bogeys and a birdie to go with 15 pars. He made par on the first 13 holes of the round before dropping a stroke on the 400-yard fifth hole. He got back to even par with a birdie on the par 3 eighth before finishing with a bogey on No. 9.
Just 19 of the 60 golfers in the field made par or better on No. 9. The 460-yard, par 4 hole featured the highest scoring average of the da, 1.15 strokes over par.
Gonzalez was among the leaders throughout the round, going even par on the back with a pair of par 3 birdies and two bogeys before making the turn. He birdied the longest hole on the course, the 587-yard No. 3 to go into the final hole at 1-under. However, a double bogey on No. 9 put him at plus-1 for the round.
Graduate transfer Nick Thornton (Boerne, Texas) finished the first round on the 6,802-yard, par 71 Raven Golf Club with a 4-over par 75. He was the only UTA golfer to register a par on No. 9.
Junior Tanner Gore (El Paso, Texas), the last UTA golfer to finish his round in the heaviest rain of the day, enters tomorrow's second round in a tie for 25th at 5-over par. Senior teammate Greenspoon (Houston, Texas) finished at 7-over par and a tie for 33rd.
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