RADFORD, VA -- Kyle Scott fired a 4-under-par 68 Thursday to take a 2-stroke lead individually and lift 2nd-ranked Georgia Tech to a 6-shot lead after the first round of the NCAA East Regional golf tournament.
Tech posted a 1-over-par score of 289 Thursday on the Pete Dye River Course at Virginia Tech, which at 7,685 yards is the longest course the Yellow Jackets have played this year. Duke is in second place at 7-over 295, followed by Kent State and Oklahoma (+8) in a tie for third place.
The East Regional is one of six tournaments taking place around the country this weekend, three with 13 teams competing each, and the other three with 14 teams each. The top five finishers after 54 holes in each region tournament will advance to the NCAA Finals, which begin May 31 in Stillwater, Okla.
James White posted a 73 for the Yellow Jackets Thursday, while John-Tyler Griffin and Richard Werenski each shot 74 for the Yellow Jackets' counting scores. Paul Haley came in with a 76.
"I think sometimes the first round is the hardest one to play," said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. "But we got off to a good start and played solid throughout the whole round. The golf course is a great golf course. It's difficult and the scores indicate that. It's a real test, and I think it'll identify teams that are playing good and hurt teams that aren't. So it's nice to get off to a good start."
The senior from Johannesburg, South Africa, who has been the runner-up in Tech's last two tournaments, sprinkled six birdies into his round Thursday, with one bogey on each side, for his sixth consecutive subpar round. Six players in the field 156 broke par. Oklahoma's Abraham Ancer is two shots back after an opening 70, and four players are tied for third with 71s.
"It was a good round today," Scott said. "I didn't hit it well to start off with. The first six holes, I scrambled pretty good. But after that, I hit it really good. I didn't miss a shot until 18. I made bogey on 18, which is unfortunate. But I was happy with the way I played. I putted pretty good, and I drove it well. I played from the short grass most of the day. It's nice to attack these greens from the fairway instead of the rough."
"He's been playing good for two months now," Heppler said of Scott. "He's the 15th-ranked guy in the country, so he's had a good year. He drives the ball really straight, and he probably played from the short grass most of the day. If you don't, you're going to shoot over par."
White, who has won twice this year, is in a six-way tie for eighth place, while Griffin and Werenski are tied with several others for 14th place.
The Jackets built a strong lead by playing the par-5 16th and par-3 17th holes 5-under-par, but gave back some of those strokes at the par-4 18th. They'll begin Friday's second round on the 10th tee at 9:10 a.m. While Tech has advanced to the Finals 18 of 19 times since the regional tournament format has been used, the Yellow Jackets have not won a regional since 2002, when it shared the honors with Clemson at Settindown Creek in Roswell, Ga.