Point Park opens NAIA Men's Golf National Championship with 309
May 19, 2015 at 11:00 p.m. ET
Pictured: Diego Ortiz tees off in Rd 1 of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship. Photo by Gavin Prosser.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Point Park University battled through a hot and steamy day Tuesday in the first round of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., and carded a team score of 309.
Senior Eric Poplowski, from Economy, Pa., fired a 2-over 74 and is tied for 37th in the 156-player field to lead the Pioneers. Fellow seniors Diego Ortiz, of Mexico City, Mexico, and Ben Kennedy of Sewickley, Pa., shot 76 and 79, respectively to give Point Park three players in the 70s.
Point Park is in 24th place of 29 teams after 18 holes, which puts it in a group of eight teams that are separated by just four shots and sitting just outside the cut line. On a tough scoring day, particularly in the afternoon when temperatures rose and winds kicked up, only 15 of the 29 teams broke 300.
The Pioneers teed off a 12:50 p.m. as part of the afternoon pairings. The scoring average was 75.96 in the morning wave but was nearly a shot worse at 76.76 in the afternoon. Point Park's tee times begin at 8:20 a.m. from hole No. 10 in the second round Wednesday.
Poplowski paced the Pioneers with his 2-over effort. He was 1-over on each side with a birdie and two bogeys on both the front nine and back nine. He birdied the par-4 ninth to go out in 37, and he also shot 37 on the back nine.
Ortiz collected two birdies and shot 38 on each side. He was even through his first eight holes, but a double bogey on the ninth put him out in 38. A birdie on the par-4 17th balanced out three bogeys on the back side for a solid round of 76.
Kennedy tied Poplowski and Ortiz for the team lead in birdies with two. Both birdies featured an excellent shot, the first of which was nearly a hole-in-one on the third hole. Kennedy stuck his tee shot to one foot and tapped in for birdie on the 165-yard hole. On the 17th, he chipped in for another birdie.
Senior Collin Holmes and freshman Max Kaminsky shot 80 and 81, respectively. They battled through some tough holes but still kept the damage as low as possible amid some big numbers. That effort kept the Pioneers within striking distance of making a move toward the cut line.
Holmes had two bad holes -- a nightmare 9 on the par-4 sixth and a double bogey on the 13th -- but he shot 1-over on the other 16 holes. He was even through his first five holes before finding a hazard off the tee and also on the approach on the forgettable sixth. But Holmes parred 10 of the final 12 holes to keep it steady.
Kaminsky entered the national tournament on a streak of seven straight rounds in the 70s, the longest current streak on the team. He nearly kept that alive despite a tough day. Kaminsky parred nine of the previous 10 holes before coming in with a bogey and a triple bogey on the 17th and 18th to shoot 81.
Point Park's team score of 309 is tied for its second-best showing in the first round of a national tournament. The Pioneers also shot 309 in the first round of the 2013 tournament in Salem, Ore. The program's best opening score was a 306 in the 1969 NAIA national tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, an event that the Pioneers finished fourth in the final standings.
For a complete team and individual leaderboard of round one of the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, click the link above. Live Scoring is available all tournament long courtesy of Golfstat. Follow the Pioneers' scoring beginning in round two at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.
The NAIA Network aired a video recap of day one. Click the link at the top of the page for a complete report from Daytona Beach. Follow the Pioneers in the national tournament on Twitter @PointParkSports with hashtag #PPUGOLF and #NAIAGolf.