Jackson Wedgeworth and his No. 6 Mississippi Gulf Coast teammates scorched some desert golf Tuesday and lead the NJCAA Division II Golf Tournament after the first round.
Wedgeworth, a freshman from Soso and West Jones, shot a 5-under 66 to lead all individuals at the Longbow Golf Course in Mesa, Ariz., and the Bulldogs were the only team to finish under par. Their 7-under leads No. 1 Tyler by eight strokes
"You can't win it on the first day, but you can lose it. We put ourselves in good position," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "They've adapted to desert golf. They've bought into drinking a lot of water and leaving the soft drinks alone. They're serious about playing well."
Wedgeworth started on the back nine and birdied two of the first four holes. He'd add four more, playing his first-ever competitive round of deserted golf without a bogey. Gulf Coast arrived Saturday and practiced three days in the Mesa area.
"It's my first time. I kinda wished I'd played it before because I really like it," Wedgeworth said. "I just kind of fell in love with it. It seems to suit my game well."
His 5-under leads Murray State College's Reece Blair by one shot, but it could have been more.
"That 66, believe it or not, is about as high as it could have been," Snell said. "He played really well. If he'd had normal putting day, it would have been really low. He's hitting the ball well and feels real confident."
There's an old golf adage that you can't win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it. Gulf Coast has 54 more holes to play, but the Bulldogs couldn't have hoped to be in a better spot.
"There's some really good teams behind us," Snell said. "This is the strongest field I've ever seen at the national championship. We've got to keep focused on one shot at a time. We can't get too caught up in today's round."
NJCAA Division II Golf Tournament
Longbow Golf Course
7,050 yards, Par 71
Round 1, Tuesday
Team top 10
|1. Gulf Coast||277 (-7)|
|2. Tyler||285 (+1)|
|T3. Mesa||287 (+3)|
|T3. Murray State||287 (+3)|
|5. South Mountain||293 (+9)|
|6. Illinois Central||296 (+12)|
|7. Meridian||297 (+13)|
|T8. Parkland||300 (+16)|
|T8. Kirkwood||300 (+16)|
|10. Copiah-Lincoln||301 (+17)|
|1. Jackson Wedgeworth||66 (-5)|
|T4. Colin Troxler||70 (-1)|
|T4. Wyatt Adkison||70 (-1)|
|T9. Jonathon Newman||71 (E)|
|T48. Logan Leary||76 (+5)|
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