What should be a promising season for Greg Nye’s Penn State golf team got off a slow start at The Gopher Invitational Sunday.
The event was scheduled for a double-round Sunday, but most of the field was unable to complete 36 holes. Penn State struggled to an opening-round 17-over 301 at the 7,388-yard, par-71 Windsong Farm Golf Club layout.
The Nittany Lions battled back and were just 4-over for the second round and stand tied for 12th with Iowa and San Diego State at 21-over.
Penn State’s top returning player, Cole Miller, a senior who starred scholastically at Northwestern Lehigh, got off to a solid start with a 1-over 72 and was tied for 15th at 2-over when play was halted. Miller, winner of the Washington Regional last spring, was 1-over for his second round. Charles Huntzinger, a junior from Duluth, Ga., is tied for 26th at 4-over. Huntzinger struggled to an opening-round 77, but was 2-under for his second round.
JD Hughes, a junior from Carlisle, is tied for 48th at 7-over. Hughes, who captured the Pennsylvania Amateur title at White Manor Country Club this summer, opened with a 75 and was 3-over in his second round. In Hughes and Miller, the 2016 champion, Nye has a pair of Pennsylvania Amateur winners on his roster.
Alec Bard, a sophomore from New Hartford, N.Y., is tied for 51st at 8-over. Bard opened with a 77 and was 2-over for his second round. Junior Ryan Dornes, a former Manheim Township standout, is tied for 66th at 10-over. Dornes opened with a 77 and was 4-over for his second round.
It is a strong field, which includes reigning national champion Oklahoma, but Penn State is going to have to think of itself as an equal to these programs if it plans to compete against them in the postseason next spring. Last year’s team showed some swagger just in time for the postseason last spring.
Southeast Conference representative Arkansas held the lead at 1-over when play was halted Sunday. The Razorbacks had opened with an even-par 284. A couple of Big 12 powers, Baylor and the national champion Sooners are second and third, respectively. The Bears, who opened with a 1-under 283, are second at 4-over while Oklahoma, which opened with an 8-over 292, is third at 8-over.
Penn State’s Big Ten rival, Michigan State, is fourth at 10-over after an opening round of 6-over 290. Charlotte is fifth at 13-over after opening with a 14-over 298.
Arkansas was led by Mason Overstreet, a sophomore from Kingfisher, Okla. who is alone in fourth place in the individual standings at 3-under 139 after adding a 4-under 67 to his opening-round 72.
Alvaro Ortiz, a senior from Mexico, is tied for 15th at 2-over after opening with a solid 1-under 70, William Buhl, a sophomore from Fairhope, Ala. and Charles Kim, a junior from Cedar Park, Texas, are tied for 26th at 4-over. Luis Garza, a sophomore from Mexico, is tied for 40th at 5-over, although his 3-under 69 was the low score of the opening round for the Razorbacks.
Kent State’s Ian Holt, a senior from Stow, Ohio, held the individual lead as he completed two rounds, firing a 4-under 67 in the afternoon after opening with a 1-under 70 to stand at 5-under 137.
Pepperdine’s Sahith Theegala, a junior from Chino Hills, Calif., is tied for second at 4-under 138 after opening with a 3-under 68 and adding a 1-under 70 in the afternoon. Theegala is coming off a strong summer during which he qualified for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills and reached the second round of the U.S. Amateur last month at Riviera Country Club. Theegala lost in 19 holes to Texas senior Doug Ghim, who reached the final at Riviera and was one of the stars on the U.S. team that polished off a spectacular Walker Cup-winning performance Sunday at Los Angeles Country Club (more on that victory in a post sometime Monday).
Sharing second with Theegala is Arizona State’s Alex Del Rey Gonzalez, a sophomore from Spain who matched Holt’s afternoon 67 after opening with a 71 to join Theegala at 4-under 138.
Two shots behind Arkansas’ Overstreet in a tie for fifth at 1-under 141 is Virginia Tech’s Mark Lawrence, a junior from Richmond, Va. who added an afternoon 3-under 69 to a morning 72. Lawrence reached the semifinals in the U.S. Amateur before falling in 19 holes to eventual champion Doc Redman, a junior at Clemson who was also a member of the winning U.S. Walker Cup team.
Baylor’s Matthew Perrine, a senior from Austin, Texas, and Charlotte’s Connor Purcell, a sophomore from Ireland, are tied for fifth with Lawrence at 1-under, although they still have some work to do to finish their second round. Perrine opened with a 3-under 68 while Purcell had a 2-under 69 Sunday morning.
Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke, a junior from Norman, Okla., and New Mexico’s Galven Green, a freshman from Malaysia, will also have to return to finish the second round, but are tied for eighth at even-par.
Dalke, who played a leadership role in Oklahoma’s march to the national title last spring, opened with an even-par 71 while Green had a 2-over 73 in the morning, but was 2-under for his afternoon round when play was called for the day.