By Cassie Stein, Golfweek
LAS VEGAS – Carl Jonson is finally comfortable calling the 7,374-yard Southern Highlands Golf Club his home golf course while attending UNLV.
“We’ve seen just about every hole location and every wind direction, and we really know where to hit the ball,” Jonson said. “Compared to other guys, some might be seeing it for the first time, it’s a shell shock when you see the whole place.”
Thanks in large to his 2-under 70 in 20-mph wind conditions, UNLV leads the Southern Highland Collegiate Masters after the first-round with a 1-over 289, four in front of Oklahoma State.
The junior got off to a slow start after bogeying No. 1. The wind was howling back into the player’s faces off the tee, and for some, the ball didn’t make it to the fairway. From there, Jonson birdied Nos. 3-5 after hitting all three of his approach shots inside of 10 feet.
“ … At that point I was really feeling the putter. The greens are incredibly smooth right now, and if you get your putts starting out on line, they’re for sure going in,” he said.
He added another birdie at the 14th and followed that with a bogey.
Jonson also added that he and his teammates saw these types of winds last week during qualifying – granted it was a different direction – but they were fortunate enough to get a test of the wind.
The Rebels, No. 33 in the Golfweek rankings, are looking to capture their first Southern Highlands title since 2012 and second victory of the 2013-14 campaign.
UNLV will need to hold off a handful of powerhouses, with third-ranked Oklahoma State sitting in second after a 5-over 293. The Cowboys' in-state rival, Oklahoma, is another three shots back at 8 over. Stanford sits another shot back of Oklahoma, while top-ranked Alabama and UCLA are tied for fifth at 11 over.
Jonson is tied with Oklahoma State’s Wyndham Clark atop the individual leaderboard.
TCU’s Julien Brun, UCLA’s Jonathan Garrick and UNLV’s Taylor Montgomery are T-3 after 1-under 71s on Friday.
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