April 29, 2012

Winds, inconsistency lead to Men's Golf's sluggish start


NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. -- Winds ranging anywhere from 20 to 30 miles per hour were Northern Colorado Golf's biggest opponent Sunday during the first round of the 2012 America Sky Men's Golf Conference Championship.

The winds weren't consistent -- bending trees one minute, merely ruffling leaves the next -- and that was a challenge for the Bears at Lake of Isles Golf Course.

Their top four scores added to 319 strokes (+31), which put them in a two-way tie for seventh with Weber State after the Championship's first 18 holes.

Sacramento State, led by first-round individual leader Cameron Rappleye (1-under 71), is atop the team leaderboard by a wide margin, at 290 (+2).

Houston Baptist (307, +19) and Hartford (310, +22) are second and third.

"We did not play our best, to say the least," Bears coach Chuck Scheinost said. "We're tied for seventh, and that's not where we want to be, but the guys really grinded it on the last two holes. It was an extremely tough day.

"I was proud of the way we battled back to get in the position where we are. I'm disappointed, but, with a couple good rounds, who knows what happens. That's kind of our philosophy: 'Go out and put a couple good rounds together and see what happens.'"

Freshman Steven Kupcho shot 38 on the front nine but then ran into some trouble after the turn with four bogeys on the back stretch, to go with one birdie. That back-nine 39 gave him a 5-over 77 on the day and a tie for 16th.

That inconsistency between nine-hole segments was a theme for the Bears and really got in their way of putting together any kind of momentum. Scheinost said the main culprit in the up-and-down play was the gusty conditions.

The Bears would tee off together on a given hole but use different club selections within minutes of each other to either cut through the wind or loft through a gentle breeze.

"It was a little crazy," Scheinost said. "One of our guys would use a 9-iron on a hole, and then another would follow up with a wedge. That's not ideal."

Freshman Charlie Mroz (80, T-26) was solid to start, firing a 37 on the front nine, but he had five bogeys and a triple-bogey on the back nine before a birdie on No. 18.

Sophomore Ben Krueger? He was 9-over (45) on the front but even on the back, with birdies on Nos. 12 and 17 offset by a double-bogey on 15.

Krueger's 9-over 81 has him tied for 32nd with junior teammate Kevin Collignon, who had two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey on the front before finishing just one stroke over par on the back.

"Nearly everyone had at least one decent nine [holes], but they struggled on the other nine," Scheinost said. "So … two more rounds to go, we're excited to see what happens and kind of go from there. Hopefully the guys can come back tomorrow with a good round."