Camels 10th after first round of Athens Regional

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Jesper Svensson is tied for seventh individually and Campbell University is 10th on the team leader board after Monday’s opening round of the NCAA Athens regional men’s golf championship at the UGA Golf Course.

Svensson stands at even-par on the par-71, Robert Trent Jones design after a first day when only five of 75 golfers in the field finished in red numbers. Campbell sophomore Pontus Nyholm is tied for 12th at one-over 72 heading into Tuesday’s second round.

The top five teams, along with the top individual from non-qualifying teams from each of six regional sites will advance to the NCAA Championship that will be held May 24-29 at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Led by opening round 69’s from Spencer Ralston and Davis Thompson, host and No. 16th Georgia is at even par 284 and owns a two-stroke lead over fourth-ranked Vanderbilt (286). No. 9 Duke is third (289), Tennessee fourth (290) and Memphis (292) fifth through 18 holes.

Brad Bawden of Memphis is the first round individual leader after shooting a 3-under-par 68.

Ranked No. 40 nationally, Campbell stands eight shots out of NCAA qualification range with 36 holes to play.

The two-time Big South Conference golfer of the year, Svensson finished his day with three birdies, played the par-4 holes even and was 1-under on the par-5 layouts. Nyholm’s round included 15 pars, one birdie and the sophomore was even on the par threes. Max Theodorakis tied for 60th (78), Ray Kraivixien tied for 65th (79) and Brett McLamb tied for 70th (80) in the 75-golfer field.

As a team, the Camels played the par-3 holes at two-over to rank second in the field.

Campbell set a school record by winning five tournaments during the 2018-19 campaign, including its second Big South title in the last three years. The Camels also won the Golfweek Program Challenge, OBX Intercollegiate, FGCU Classic and Golden Horseshoe Intercollegiate and finished among the top five 10 times in 11 outings.

CU’s trip to Athens extends a program-record post-season stretch that began with the 2016 Kohler Regional and continued in 2017 at West Lafayette and last year in Raleigh.

All five regulars in the Camel lineup earned Big South all-conference honors, while John Crooks was named Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons. Svensson and Kraivixien are playing in their school-record fourth regional event, while McLamb, a redshirt junior, is in his third. Theodorakis and Nyholm are competing in post-season play for the second-straight season.

Now in his 29th year in charge of the Campbell men’s golf program and 28th as head coach of the CU women, Crooks has been named league coach of the year 22 times in his tenure. His teams have combined to earn 31 NCAA post-season trips, including four-straight on the men’s side and eight in a row for the women. His teams have won 147 tournaments and with 88 career tournament titles, Crooks trails only Dan Brooks of Duke on the active all-time coaching victories list among Division I women’s coaches.

Over the last five seasons, Crooks’ team has won the Big South men’s championship twice (2017, 2019) and finished as runner-up three times (2015, 2016, 2018). Last month at Ninety Six, South Carolina, the Camels won the stroke play portion of the league championship by 32 shots, then swept Winthrop and Gardner-Webb in match play to claim the title. Campbell’s 54-hole mark (278-274-286—838) tied the league record Campbell set in winning the 2017 crown on the same Patriot GC layout.

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