SANDESTIN, Fla. – Guilford College junior Noah Ratner (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) shot a career-low five-under-par 66 Sunday to take the first-round lead at the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational.
Playing the par-71, 6,643-yard Raven Golf Club at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Ratner matched the third-lowest round in school history and helped Guilford (290) take the opening-round lead in the 18-team field. He birdied two of the first three holes and made the turn at two-under. Ratner got off to a strong start on the back nine with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes. He went five under with a birdie on the 421-yard, par-four 14th hole.
Ratner, who won his first college individual title two weeks ago, has a two-stroke lead over LaGrange College’s Hudson Keener (68). Thad Wier III of St. John Fisher College holds third after an opening-round 69.
Guilford has a one-stroke edge of the University of Texas-Tyler, which shot 291 Sunday. The Patriots, ranked first in the current Golfstat.com NCAA Division III ratings, are one of 12 competitors ranked among the website’s top-25 teams. Rhodes College (296), St. John Fisher (297) and defending national runner-up Illinois Wesleyan University (298) round out the top five after 18 holes.
Quakers’ freshman Drew Thompson, making his varsity debut, turned in a two-over 73 that stands 12th in the 90-man field. Junior J.T. Thomas drained an eagle on the 562-yard, par-five 11th hole, which helped him to a season-low 74 and 18th place individually. Rookie Mitch Robinette (Charlotte, N.C./Grace Academy) shot 77 and senior Dusty Roberts (Reidsville, N.C./Rockingham County) 83 for Guilford.
The 54-hole tournament continues with Monday’s second round.
The Patriots, got an eagle on the 17th hole from John Dukes, which helped him to an opening-round 70.