(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
DUPONT, Wash. – An historic day to start with wound up better than the Montana State University Billings men’s golf team could have possibly predicted, as the Yellowjackets are in first place and Garrett Woodin leads the field after the opening round of the NCAA D2 West/South Central Regional Championships at The Home Course.
Woodin shot a near-perfect, career-low round of 4-under-par 68 on the par-72, 7,026-yard course, and is in first place among the field of 86 players. As a team, the Yellowjackets fired a 4-under-par 284 – their lowest round of the season – and sit atop the field of the top-16 teams in the combined regional event.
“It was a solid start for the guys today,” said MSUB head coach Jeff Allen. “We definitely got the fortunate side of the draw with the weather this morning and the guys took advantage of some quality scoring conditions. We have said all year long that we are trying to get better every day, and that doesn’t change now. There is a lot of golf to play, the guys are in a good place, and they are looking forward to getting after it again tomorrow.”
MSUB holds a one-stroke lead over second-place Saint Martin’s University with two rounds left to play at the event. The top-four teams and the top individual not on a top-four team after Saturday’s final round will qualify for the 2021 NCAA Championships.
In addition to Woodin’s 68, the Yellowjackets counted a 1-under-par 71 from both Riley Kaercher and Kevin Kolb, who sit in a tie for 10th place. Caleb Trost chipped in a 74, and is in a tie for 37th place. “I am really happy with the way that we approached our rounds today,” said Woodin, a fifth-year senior and a first-team all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection this spring. “I think everyone was only focused on hitting one good shot at a time.”
Woodin’s career day featured a 3-under-par 33 on the front-nine, as he started the event on fire and carded three birdies going out. He never lost momentum, adding one more birdie on the back nine and playing bogey-free golf en route to the top of the leaderboard. The senior carries a one-stroke edge over second-place Tyler Fitchett of Saint Martin’s and Pablo Diaz of Colorado Mesa, who each shot a 69 on Thursday.
“Personally, my distance control and speed for my putting was about as perfect as it could be today, and I plan to approach my round tomorrow with the same game plan,” Woodin said. “Our team motto this year has been to get better every day, so our only goal for tomorrow is to be even more mentally strong than we were today.”
Kolb shook off three bogeys on the front-nine, and settled into a scoring groove midway through his round. After combatting the bogeys with a pair of pars for a 1-over-par 37 on the front, the redshirt freshman turned it on with a 2-under-par 34 on the back-nine to cruise into the top-10 on the leaderboard.
Kaercher was similarly impressive with his control on Thursday, making just two bogeys and offsetting them with three birdies to post his best score of the 2021 spring season. After making a bogey on the par-4, 405-yard second hole, Kaercher played the next 15 holes at 3-under-par as he pulled even with Kolb.
Trost mastered the front-nine, carding nine pars and making the turn with an even-par 36. The junior battled through four bogeys on the back-nine, and saved a pair of strokes with two birdies to give the Yellowjackets a fourth stellar score to open the tournament.
Also competing for MSUB on Thursday was Paul O’Neil, who finished his round with a respectable 79. O’Neil made a pair of birdies – both of which came on the back-nine where he improved by three strokes and posted a 2-over-par 38.
THE BUZZ: Woodin was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Woodin previously notched a 68 on April 4, 2017 during his freshman season at the Western New Mexico Invitational…Thursday marked the first-ever team round at an NCAA Regional Championship for MSUB’s men’s golf team and the first-ever playoff round for MSUB’s five players.
NEXT UP: The three-round event resumes on Friday morning with the opening group teeing off at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time, and MSUB’s players beginning their tee times at 11:10 a.m. Live results will be available online through Golf Stat here. [results.golfstat.com]
2021 NCAA D2 West/South Central Regional Championship
Round 1 Results – May 6, 2021
The Home Course – DuPont, Washington
Team – 1. MSU Billings, 284. Individual – 1. Garrett Woodin, MSUB, 68; T10. Riley Kaercher, MSUB, 71; T10. Kevin Kolb, MSUB, 71; T37. Caleb Trost, MSUB, 74; T80. Paul O’Neil, MSUB, 79.