Solid Start Has Ducks Among Leaders
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Two days after the Oregon women's program finished as national runner-up at the NCAA Championship tournament, the UO men made their own statement at Grayhawk Golf Club.
The Ducks tied for the lead among teams in the morning wave of Friday's first round of the men's NCAA Championship tournament. By the time the afternoon wave finished up, Oregon's team score of 5-over 285 on the par-70, 7,289-yard course was tied for second with Auburn in the 30-team field and trailed only Vanderbilt's 2-over 282.
Nate Stember finished with consecutive birdies to lead the Ducks individually with a round at even par. Greyson Leach had 15 pars on his way to a round of 1-over 71, while both Yuki Moriyama and Greg Solhaug carded rounds of 2-over 72. Moriyama was 1 under for the day before finding trouble on No. 18.
"I thought the guys played well," UO coach Casey Martin said. "This golf course is extremely difficult and I was encouraged. It wasn't perfect; we had kind of a gut-punch there on 18. But you know what? You're not gonna avoid this golf course — that happens out here. The guys battled, and we're all right."
How It Happened: The first hole was the toughest on the course during the women's portion of the championship, and it was again the toughest when the men began play Friday — and Oregon was no exception. Stember and Leach carded bogey at No. 1, and Owen Avrit had trouble around the green to take a triple bogey.
But the Ducks began to get back on track almost immediately. Avrit bounced back with a birdie at No. 2, as did Stember, with one of his five birdies on the day. That was third-most in the field Friday. As a team, Oregon's total of 14 birdies was second to Kansas' 17.
Leach, Moriyama and Solhaug all made the turn at even par and Stember was 1 over, while Avrit played the last eight holes of the front side at even par. Moriyama had consecutive birdies at No. 11 and No. 12 to get 2 under for the day before stumbling at 18, while Stember finished his round with two birdies to close even.
1. Vanderbilt 282 (+2)
T2. Oregon 285 (+5)
T2. Auburn 285 (+5)
T4. Kansas 286 (+6)
T4. Arizona 286 (+6)
6. Oklahoma 287 (+7)
7. North Carolina 288 (+8)
8. Oklahoma State 289 (+9)
T9. Liberty 290 (+10)
T9. Arizona State 290 (+10)
Ducks on the Leaderboard
T8. Nate Stember 70 (E)
T16. Greyson Leach 71 (+1)
T32. Yuki Moriyama 72 (+2)
T32. Greg Solhaug 72 (+2)
T82. Owen Avrit 75 (+5)
What It Means: The Ducks are making their first NCAA Championship tournament appearance since 2018, with a lineup that features two juniors (Avrit, Stember), two sophomores (Moriyama, Solhaug) and a freshman in Leach. Yet they seemed undaunted in their opening round Friday.
"They're comfortable," Martin said. "Yeah, they were comfortable. I was encouraged. I mean, yeah, like I said, it wasn't perfect. You kind of want a few holes back. Now we've just gotta go rest, get hydrated and get ready to battle the 105(-degree heat) tomorrow."
Up Next: The Ducks begin their second round Saturday from the 10th tee at 11:52 a.m.