NORMAN, Okla. (May 17, 2012) - The Florida State University men's golf team is in a tie first place with Texas in the team standings and senior All-American Brooks Koepka is in second place in the individual standings after the first round of the NCAA Division I Southwest Regional Championship on the Jimmie Austin Golf Course at the University of Oklahoma. The Seminoles are tied with Texas and five strokes ahead of Illinois with St. Mary's (California) and Washington seven strokes back with two rounds remaining to be played.
The top five teams and the top individual not on one of the five teams advancing to the championship will advance from each of the six regional championships to the NCAA National Championships May 29-June 3 at the Riveria Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
"I was pleased with our preparation going into this event and think that enabled us to get off to a good start today," said head coach Trey Jones. We know the wind is going to be in true Oklahoma form in the next two days. We are going to have to do a good job recognizing when to be aggressive and when to play from the pins."
Florida State carded a 279 team score with three players in the top nine of the individual standings, three players under par, two players with scores in the 60's, 23 total birdies, one eagle (by Chase Seiffert) and only 12 bogeys in 90 total holes played by the Seminoles' starting line-up. Every Seminole player in the line-up played at least part of their round under par with Koepka and freshman Daniel Berger never having their scores move above even par. Koepka was under par on 17 of the 18 holes he played after a score of par on his first hole.
Koepka (Wellington, Fla.) was on fire from the beginning as he carded a birdie on his second hole and three birdies on his first nine holes to make the turn at 3 under par. He then closed his round with four birdies and three holes of par on his final eight holes to close with a 5 under par score of 67.
Koepka, the 2012 ACC Golfer of the Year, is currently playing as one of the nation's hottest golfers. He has carded five consecutive rounds at par or better, is averaging 70.2 strokes in his last five rounds and has been above par for a total of five holes in his last four rounds played. Koepka has not been above par at any time since the first round of the ACC Championship on April 20. Koepka's score of 67 is tied for his fourth lowest score of his senior season and is his 10th score carded in the 60's in 28 rounds this year.
"I feel like I played well today and I am happy overall with how 1 played," said Koepka. "I made some mistakes but was able to keep everything under control. We are all looking forward to playing tomorrow. There are supposed to be some tough conditions but nothing that the guys on our team can't handle.
Koepka trails Jordan Speith of Texas by one stroke. Spieth is the only golfer other than Tiger Woods to have won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship multiple times. He won the championship of that tournament in 2009 and 2011 and was named the Rolex Junior Golfer of the Year in 2009.
"Brooks stepped up with a solid 67 today," said Jones. "He is playing really well and is comfortable with all aspects of his game right now."
Berger (Jupiter, Fla.) is in a tie for fifth place in the individual standings after carding a 3 under par score of 69. He carded six birdies and 10 more holes at par despite the fact that he is playing in his first career NCAA Regional Championship. Berger was 2 under par at the turn with two birdies and closed his afternoon with three birdies on his final six holes.
Berger is only three strokes behind Speith in the race for the individual championship.
Koepka and Berger are looking become only the second Seminoles in school history to win an individual regional championship. Former Seminole All-American Drew Kittleson won the individual title at the 2010 NCAA Central Regional.
"The course was perfect today and the greens were rolling great," said Berger. "When I got a couple of birdies to fall early it gave me confidence. We have been working all year to win a national championship so we need to continue improving every day this week so we have the opportunity to move onto the championship round on Saturday."
Senior Wesley Graham (Port Orange, Fla.) continued his personal tradition of playing well in NCAA Regional competition as he carded a 2 under par score of 70 in the first round. Graham finished his round at 4 under par on his final 12 holes with four birdies, eight holes scored a par and zero bogeys. He was able to turn his fortunes around after three bogeys and a 2 over par total on his first six holes. Graham has now played three of his last six holes with scores of 70 or better dating to the second round of the Gary Koch Intercollegiate on April 7.
Graham is in a tie for 10th place in the individual standings heading into the second round.
In seven career regional championship rounds, Graham has carded four scores below par with four of his seven rounds scored at 70 or better. He averages 72.29 strokes per round during his career in regional play. Graham finished in a career best tied for second at the NCAA Central Regional Championship in 2010. His finish in 2010 helped the Seminoles to a second place finish in the regional championship and a third place finish at the National Championships.
"Daniel and Wesley are both playing with a lot of confidence and that confidence is growing by the day," said Jones. "There is nothing that replaces confidence."
Junior Doug Letson (Tampa, Fla.), who is playing in his first career regional championship, is in a tie for 27th place in the individual standings with a 1 over par score of 73. He was playing well at 1 under par over his first 11 holes but finished the round a 2 over par on his final seven holes. Letson totaled two birdies and 13 more holes scored at par during the round. He is only three strokes from moving into the top 10 and only four strokes from moving into the top five.
Junior Chase Seiffert (Panama City, Fla.), who is also playing in his first career regional championship on the Division I level, carded a 3 over par score of 75 and is in a tie for 48th place. He carded Florida State's only eagle - a three on the par hole No. 8 - to go along with three birdies and 10 more holes scored at par.