GREENSBORO, N.C. – Methodist University grabbed a one-shot lead after Tuesday’s first round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center. With a four-under-par 284, the Monarchs hold a narrow edge over the University of Redlands in the 41-team field.
The University of La Verne’s Kelby Scharmann fired a six-under-par 66 on the par-72, 6,710-yard West Course and holds a one-shot edge over LaGrange College’s Corey Howard atop the 210-man individual leaderboard.
The teams were divided over Grandover’s East and West Courses on a warm and muggy afternoon with temperatures near 90. The par-72, 7,200-yard East Course proved the more difficult of the two with an average score of 78.48 strokes per round. The average West Course score Tuesday was 76.58. Eight of the top-12 teams Tuesday played the West Course in afternoon pairings. Illinois Wesleyan University paced the East Course teams with an opening-round 292, which shares third place overall with LaGrange. Schreiner University, which returned all five individuals from its 2014 national championship squad, shot 10-over 298 on the East Course and sits in 13th place.
Methodist, winners of a record 10 NCAA Division III men’s golf titles, put all four of its scorers among the top-15 individuals. Senior Jeff Wells fired a two-under 69 and shares fifth place, two strokes better than teammate Aaron Purviance, who shares 10th place at 71. Wells made one of the day’s four eagles with a three on the par-five sixth hole. Mason Stutler and Jackson Collier both carded even-par 72s and share 15th place.
Redlands senior Bobby Holden enjoyed a successful return to the site of his 2014 individual national title by shooting four-under 68. Starting on the West Course’s 10th hole, he made five birdies and one bogey in his round. Teammates Ryan Turner and Anthony Estes both shot 72 for the Bulldogs.
Illinois Wesleyan saw all four of its scorers shoot within two strokes of each other with Tony Albano leading the way with a 72. Teammates Tim Tynan and Spencer Groessl followed with 73s and Gabe Aprati shot 74.
Like Holden, Scharmann started on the West’s 10th hole and blistered his final 11 holes for a six-under 66. He made his turn at one under, birdied the first hole and then eagled the par-five second hole to drop four under. The senior continued his string of six sub-par holes with birdies on three and four en route to a round-high six birdies. Howard also had six birdies, along with Hampden-Sydney College individual, who shares third place with Holden at 68.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges rookie Matt Shuman carded the East Course’s low score with a three-under 69. He helped the Stags to a first-day 297, good for a four-way share of ninth place. Wittenberg’s Sam Stillwell had a two-under 70 on the East Course and shares the seventh spot with the University of Texas-Tyler’s Buddy Hallman and 2012 Division III medalist Anthony Maccaglia of Oglethorpe University, both of whom played the West Course.
Tournament co-host Guilford College sits in sixth place after shooting 294 on the West Course Tuesday. Ty Palmer and Drew Thompson both shot 71 for the Quakers and share 10th place individually. Palmer stroked five birdies in his round and Thompson notched an eagle on the par-five sixth hole.
The 41 teams and five individuals swap courses and tee times for Tuesday’s second round, which begins at 7:30 a.m. Guilford starts off the first hole of the East Course at 8:25 a.m.