Husky Golfers Open NCAAs Tied for 15th

June 1, 2005

Owings Mills, MD - The 19th-ranked Washington men's golf team is tied for 15th after the first round of the NCAA Championships at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. The Huskies shot 9-over 289 while making their seventh consecutive appearance at the national championship tournament. Aside from tournament leaders Georgia and Tennessee, the field is packed tight with just 10 strokes separating third-place Arizona State and 24th-place Oklahoma State.

'I was proud of the way the guys played today,' said fourth-year Washington coach Matt Thurmond. 'The course played tough and the wind blew hard on our back nine in the afternoon. The cliché goes that you just want to stay in it after the first day and we're just fine. There really are not that many teams very far ahead of us except for Georgia.'

Georgia, which was teamed with the Huskies, grabbed an early big lead thanks to a 5-under 65 effort of Kevin Kisner. The Bulldogs shot 6-under 274 and lead second-place Tennessee by five strokes. Kisner shares the individual lead with Augusta State's Major Manning.

Husky junior James Lepp led Washington in his return to NCAA Championship competition by shooting even par 70. He is 21st after the first 18 holes of play. Lepp missed the 2004 event while having to sit out the season following his transfer from Illinois. He played in the NCAAs during his first two collegiate seasons for the Illini, placing 13th in 2002 as a freshman.

Lepp got off to a slow start with bogies on his second and third hole as the Huskies teed off from the No. 10 hole on the first day of play. He got back to even thanks to birdies on No. 13 and 15. Lepp's best opportunity to go under par came on the par-5 seventh hole where he reached the green in two but could not covert an eagle putt.

'It was a long round, but I felt good out there,' Lepp said. 'I missed two short putts on those early holes, but I got a couple of quick birdies to get those back. I'm hitting it long right now. The two longest holes coming in are 17 and 18 and I hit eight iron and wedge on those.

'That 70 felt like a great score. To see someone shooting 65 on this course today, that's unbelievable. That's great golf. It was really tough out there.'

Husky freshman Joe Panzeri (Boise, ID) had an impressive debut at the NCAAs. He shot 1-over 71, including pars on his final 10 holes. Panzeri is in 33rd place entering the second round.

'This course is so long for me, so this is a great score for me, ' Panzeri said. 'Everyone else on our team hits it quite a ways by me. I just have to hit fairways and greens to keep up with them. My short game saved me today. My final three holes, I didn't hit any of the greens and I still managed to make pars coming in.'

'It was a huge day for Joe,' Thurmond said. 'He thought he could play well on this course and then he goes out and does it. That's great for him on this first day. He told me he only hit six greens in regulation. His wedge play was very good today.'

Fellow freshman Zach Bixler (Richland, WA) carded a 74 in his first NCAA Championship round and was tied for 87th overall with sophomore Erik Olson (Renton, WA). The 2005 Pac-10 Champion, Olson completed his front nine 1-under but suffered bogies on six, seven and eight while completing his round. Sophomore Alex Prugh (Spokane, WA )finished the day at 76.

One key to Washington's opening round success was avoiding any large scores. While the team managed just eight birdies, no player score higher than bogie during the round.

'We're trying to play the first 54 holes and not worry about where we stack up,' said Thurmond about the format that will cut the field to 15 teams for the final round of play. 'Our approach is to take it like it is two different tournaments. We want to be in a position going into the final round where we can do something special. Today did not do anything to hurt us trying to get there.

The Huskies had one familiar face following them during their afternoon round. Current PGA professional Rob Rashell took advantage of being in the area for a U.S. Open qualifying tournament to watch his alma mater compete. As a senior in 1999, Rashell helped the Huskies to fourth-place at the NCAAs, the program's best finish at the tournament.

The 72-hole tournament continues through Saturday. Washington will tee off at 7:45 a.m. EST during its second round. Live scoring of the event is online at golfstat.com

2005 NCAA Divison I Men's Golf Championships
Caves Valley Golf Club
Owings Mills, Md.
Par-70, 7,129 yards
First Round Results

Team Results 1. Georgia            274 2. Tennessee          279 3. Arizona            282 4. UNLV               284 4. Coastal Carolina   284 6. BYU                285 7. Georgia Southern   286 7. Augusta State      286 9. SMU                287 9. Georgia State      287 9. Wake Forest        28712. Duke               28812. Georgia Tech       28812. Arkansas           28815. Florida            28915. New Mexico         28915. Washington         28918. San Diego State    29018. USC                29018. Tulsa              29021. Alabama            29121. Kentucky           29121. Arizona State      29124. Oklahoma State     29225. Stanford           29625. Texas A&M          29627. Texas              29828. Purdue             29928. UCLA               29930. Missouri           300

Individual Leaders1. Kevin Kisner, Georgia 651. Major Manning, Augusta State 653. Aron Price, Georgia Southern 664. Oscar Alvarez, BYU 674. Mitch Cohlmia, Tulsa 674. Ross McGowan, Tennessee 674. Michael Putnam, Pepperdine 674. James Vargas, Florida 679. Travis Esway, Ariziona 689. Robert Gates, Texas A&M 689. Webb Simpson, Wake Forest 689. Brendon Todd, Georgia 689. Martin Ureta, North Carolina 68

Washington Scores 21. James Lepp 70 33. Joe Panzeri 71 87. Erik Olson 74 87. Zach Bixler 74123. Alex Prugh 76

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