Sept. 9, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Rice University golf posted a strong start to the 2013-14 campaign on Monday as the Owls carded a 285-287--572 (+4) in the first two rounds of the Sam H. Hall Intercollegiate at Hattiesburg Country Club to stand in 10th place and in a solid position to make a move in Tuesday's final 18 holes.
Head coach Justin Emil was pleased with his young team's effort, but also saw room for improvement with the Owls, who wrapped up the day just two strokes back of Southeastern Louisiana and well within striking distance of five other teams up the leader board.
"I saw some great things today by our freshmen and also our senior, who was very close to posting two rounds in the 60s," Emil said. "We struggled to close out each round, and if we are going to reach out goals this season we have to finish better than we did today."
Led by freshman Kevin Reilly in his collegiate debut, Rice posted its lowest team round in more than two seasons with an impressive 285 (+1) in the early round. Fresh off his appearance in the U.S. Amateur last month, Reilly notched a 69-71--140 (-2) to tie in 17th place with seven birdies and 24 pars on the day.
Landon Michelson, the lone active senior on the roster, played a pair of consistent rounds at 71-70--141 (-1) to match his season-low round from last season and end the day in 21st place after tallying five birdies in each round.
Another newcomer, Alex Levy, stands third on the team and 46th overall with a 72-73--145 (+3) including six birdies over the course of the day.
Joe Beck III followed closely behind and shook off a slow start to fire a 77-73--150 (+8) on the day, good for 71st in the large field. The junior's three birdies on the day came in quick succession over a span of six holes in the second round.
Sophomore James Lee opened with a 73 in the first round, including a pair of birdies on the back nine. But followed with an 82 in the afternoon to land in 82nd place at 73-82--155 (+13). Lee made his collegiate debut at the tournament a season ago and tied with Beck for the top team score at 217 (+4).
Competing as an individual, sophomore Trey Johnson ranks 56th with a 75-72--147 (+5), topping his rookie season low round of 73, which he set in his Blue and Gray debut at the same tournament last fall.
Louisiana Lafayette leads the 15-team field with a 553 (-15), establishing a new 36-hole tournament record. Mississippi State stands in second place, four strokes back. South Alabama ranks third with a 558 and Mercer and Mississippi are tied in fourth with a 564, just eight strokes up on the Owls.
From Conference USA, UTSA is tied for 11th with Arkansas State at 574 (+6) and host Southern Miss is just a stroke back in 13th.
Rice begins the second round on Tuesday morning on the 10th hole, with the first tee time set for 9:21 a.m.