EAST LANSING, Mich. – Hunter Mefford had a team-best 72 in the opening round of Purdue Fort Wayne’s first-ever team round in the NCAA Bath Regional.
Mefford’s round of 72 bests the only Mastodon to play in an NCAA Regional before this season. Zach Schroeder’s best round in 2018 was a 75.
All five Mastodons parred the course’s signature hole, the 128-yard 17th with an island green, in the opening round.
Tournament jitters were no problem for Mefford, as he started his round with five pars and a birdie. His birdie came on the 364-yard sixth hole. After a pair of bogeys, the First Team All-Horizon League selection had five more pars and another birdie on 14. One of the highlights of Mefford’s day came on 13, when he hit a long second shot from the left rough that rolled up and onto the green where he managed a par. He finished his day with a 1-over 72, and is in 44th place individually.
Jadden Ousley shot a 3-over 74 with an even front nine. After a bogey on his opening hole, he rattled off eight bogey-free holes. This included a birdie on six, which was thanks to a perfectly placed drive on the 364-yard hole between bunkers. With just a wedge in, he left himself with about 12 feet and drained the putt. His back nine featured a stretch of five pars in a row from 11 to 15.
Kasey Lilly shot a 75 to finish one shot behind Ousley. Like Mefford, Lilly started his round with four pars in a row. He birdied hole eight, then parred hole nine, a gorgeous 486-yard par-4 that runs along a lake. Lilly found another birdie on the 560-yard 14th after knocking his second shot to about 30 yards. He floated his pitch onto the green and sank a reasonably-sized putt for birdie.
From the No. 3 spot, Burke Pitz shot a 75 as well, tying Lilly and Nick Holder. Pitz had a pair of birdies on the front nine, which came in a five-hole bogey-free stretch. He joined Mefford and Ousley with a birdie on hole six. He followed it up with a par on seven and a birdie on eight, dropping a seven-foot putt. He finished his first NCAA round with four pars in a row.
Apart from three holes, Holder was bogey-free the rest of the round. He bookended the front nine with bogeys with seven pars in between. He birdied the first hole after the turn, a 408-yard par-4 with a tricky approach due to the water on the left. Holder had six more pars before he finished his round with a birdie on 18, a 589-yard par-5 that runs along the lake parallel to nine.
Purdue Fort Wayne shot 296 (+12) as a team and is in 13th place in the 13-team field of some of the best teams in the country. Georgia leads the field with an 18-under 266. Top-seeded Illinois is tied for second with the host Michigan State Spartans at 272 (-12).
The second round of the NCAA Regional will begin on Tuesday (May 16) with tee times for the Mastodons starting at 9:50 a.m. with Holder. Mefford will be the last off the tee at 10:34 a.m.