By Rob Schabert, TTU Assistant A.D. for Sports Information and Broadcasting
JONESBORO, Ark. – Two solid rounds of golf, featuring sensational play from senior Lee Whitehead and junior Mitchell Thomas, have put the Tennessee Tech men's golf team in fifth place among 21 teams following the first two rounds of the Red Wolves Invitational, hosted by Arkansas State University.
The Golden Eagles shot rounds of 297 and 295 on Saturday's first day of play, and find themselves poised to make a run for the championship on Sunday. The tournament is being played at the RidgePointe Country Club.
Whitehead carded rounds of 72 and 71 for a 36-hole total of 143 to place him fourth among the field of 115 golfers. Thomas, meanwhile, opened with a first round 71 and followed with a 73, placing him in a tie for fifth place at 144.
Tech was tied for third place with UT Martin and DePaul at 297 following the first rounds, trailing Illinois State at 292 and Delta State at 296.
Illinois State added a 293 on the second tour of the layout, and ended the day with a 585 total to hold onto first place. Belmont, which shot an opening-round 308, improved to a tourney-best 278 in the second round to skip all the way up to second place at 586, just one shot of the pace.
Delta State managed a 291 in the second round, finishing the day in third place with a 587 total. UT Martin improved to a 293 and took over fourth place at 590.
The Golden Eagles are at 592, just seven strokes from the lead with 18 holes left to play.
Host Arkansas State (593) heads up the second five on the team leaderboard, followed by DePaul (594), Austin Peay and Nichols State (597), while Missouri State and Florida Atlantic are tied for 10th (599).
In addition to Whitehead and Thomas, the Golden Eagles got plenty of strong play on Saturday throughout the lineup. Junior Adam Cunningham showed consistency with matching rounds of 76, and is in a toe for 48th place at 152. Junior Bryce Kendrick carded rounds of 78 and 75 for a 36-hole mark of 153, and is tied for 61st place. Freshman Alexander Riddle fashioned scores of 78 and 79, and is tied for 87th place at 157.
Also in the field, competing as an individual, is Mason Griffin who wrapped up play Sunday tied for 48th place with rounds of 79 and 73 for a 152 total.
Jordan Fahel of Illinois State and Andri Bjornsson of Nichols State share the individual lead at 139. Bjornsson had scores of 69 and 70, while Fahel followed an opening round 68 with a 71. The low round of the day came from Belmont's Scott Barnhart with a second-round 67. That mark, coupled with his first round 77, places him in a tie for fifth place at 144.
Photo by Rob Schabert