HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Rice true freshman James Lee shot a one-over par two-round total of 143 to help the Owls' golf team hold a tie for 12th place among a field of 15 teams on the first day of competition at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate Monday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.
In the first two rounds of his collegiate career Lee carded scores of one-over 72, and an even-par 71, to close out the first 36 holes of the 54-hole tournament. The Owl freshman from Albuquerque, N.M., is tied for 17th place among a field of 87 golfers on the individual leaderboard, eight shots off the lead heading into Tuesday's final 18 holes at the 6,882-yard Hattiesburg Country Club.
As a team the Owls posted identical rounds of 292 and 292 for a 584 stroke total. Rice is 16 shots over par and 19 off the lead held by SEC power Mississippi (565, -3), the No. 58 ranked college team in the country. Louisiana-Lafayette is in second place with an even-par 568, while Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech are tied for third at two-over 570.
Steady individual rounds helped Rice improve five shots from its stroke total at the same event from a year ago (589, +21). Behind Lee's 143, sophomore Joe Beck III shot a two-over par 144 and is tied for 26th in the individual standings. Junior Jeff Wibawa followed an opening round 74 with 73 and is tied for 41st (147, +5). Brock Wilson, the lone senior on the young Owl squad, shot 74-76 for an eight-over 150. Junior transfer Landon Michelson improved two shots on his opening round from 79 to 77 (156, +14). True freshman Trey Johnson competed as an individual at the event and battled back from an opening round 79 in his Division I debut to shoot a two-over 73 in the second round of his collegiate career.
The team's solid play in the season-opening event was not lost on Rice head coach Justin Emil. The Owls' second year head coach liked what he saw of the freshmen, and is looking for even better scores from the Blue & Gray on Tuesday to try and climb up some spots in the final team standings.
"I was very proud of James in his first collegiate event," coach Emil said. "He was solid today, and even left a few shots out there. Joe worked especially hard this summer and it showed out there today. He strung together four birdies over five holes down the stretch which was fun to watch. As a team I saw a lot of positives today. A good round tomorrow moves us right up the leaderboard."
The Owls close out action at the 10th annual Sam Hall Intercollegiate on Tuesday with tournament's final 18-holes. The first of Rice's tee times is slated for 8:36 am.