Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. – The Transylvania men's golf team rang in its 11th-consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships with a colorful first round Tuesday afternoon at the Mission Inn Resort.
Pioneer freshman Spencer McKinney had an explosive start to card a team-best two-over par 74, leading the Pioneers to a day one team score of 304. Transylvania currently sits in a crowded four-way tie for 14th place along with Webster, Mary Hardin-Baylor, and Illinois Wesleyan.
It was a debut to remember for the lone freshman representative on the five-man Pioneer team at Mission Inn Resort's Las Colinas Golf Course, one of two 18-hole courses being played by a field of 42 teams and 215 participating individuals.
McKinney cupped four birdies over his first nine holes to set a high level of expectation for himself and the Pioneers. While the freshman cooled off over the back nine, McKinney carded a memorable performance with five total birdies and eight pars. After 18 holes, McKinney sits in a 14-way tie for 25th place on the individual leaderboard.
Doing their parts to keep the Pioneers in top-row contention were sophomore Blake Young and junior Clay Church, who each finished the first round one stroke back of McKinney as both finished with a three-over par 75. The lone returning Pioneer to the NCAA Championships in 2017, Young had arguably most consistent day of the Transy five with one birdie and 13 pars.
Junior Carson Wattenbarger posted an eight-over par 80 in his first time competing in an NCAA Championship, highlighted by a two-over par stretch over the back nine. Senior Rob Canady rounded out the pack with an 84 to finish off the round for Transylvania.
Transylvania currently sits 11 strokes back of the tournament leader, Huntingdon College, which shot a round-low 293. Forging a three-way tie for second place with identical team scores of 296 are Texas-Tyler, Rhodes College, and LaGrange College.
The Pioneers will aspire for a productive day tomorrow as they move over to the El Campeon Golf Course at Mission Inn. Transylvania hopes to replicate the championship senses encountered back in the 2012 NCAA National Championships when the Pios finished as the national runners-up at this venue.
Transylvania will look to build upon a round one showing in order to qualify for tomorrow's end-of-round cut line, which is applied to teams finishing below the top-18 after two rounds of play.
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