After sluggish start, Oregon finishes first round of NCAA Championships 11-over

Oregon played nervous from the outset when it teed off in the first round of NCAA Championships at Eugene Country Club Friday morning.

On the Ducks’ very first hole, only Aaron Wise’s tee shot landed on the fairway. Edwin Yi shot far right of the fairway. Zach Foushee and Sulman Raza’s shots bounced left of the first bunker. Thomas Lim’s ball hit a tree and dropped in the rough to the right of the fairway.

It was only one hole, but the Ducks never fully got in a rhythm. They ultimately finished the first round of stroke play 11 over the par-70 course. At the time of their finish, the Ducks were tied for 17th, but that ranking will likely change once the afternoon rounds finish.

“Today was tough. We got off to a really crummy start,” Head Coach Casey Martin said. “We had a couple guys double [bogey] the first hole. You know there’s nerves, but that’s disappointing.”

Wise led Oregon with an even-par scorecard, which came down to a birdie putt on the 18th hole. Yi, the freshman, bounced back from three bogeys on the front nine to shoot even par on the back nine.

“Edwin played great, and Aaron is obviously Aaron, but the other guys need to step up and play better,” Martin said.

Foushee and Lim each finished five-over on the day, while Raza finished seven-over. Raza twice three-putted on the 11th and 17th holes, the latter of which costing him a triple bogey.

Between fighting the sand traps and struggling with his short game, Raza, the Eugene-native, voiced his frustration throughout the round.

“I’ve never scrambled this much in my life,” Raza said after he salvaged par on the 13th hole.

The par-70 golf course was intended to be more challenging for NCAA Championships than the typical 72 that it usually plays. The Ducks knew this coming into the tournament, and had practiced for it during the regular season.

“We played it as a par-70, trying to get into the right mindset,” Wise said. “Does it play a little different? Yeah, but at the end of the day you’ve got to realize 70 is a good score out here.”

As the much as the Ducks — particularly Foushee, Lim and Raza — struggled to find the fairway, to their credit, they still managed to save several holes. But ultimately the deficit, against a deep NCAA Championships field, was too much to overcome.

“I think they’re disappointed — at least I hope they are,” Martin said. “We’ll regroup and come out swinging tomorrow.”

Oregon will begin round two of the 54-hole stroke play tournament Saturday afternoon. Tee time and pairings will be announced Friday evening once all 30 teams finish the first round.

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Will Denner

Will Denner

Will Denner is a senior journalism major at the University of Oregon. He covers football and men's golf for the Emerald. Email Will at [email protected] with tips, questions and comments.