Courier sports staff
---- — LUBBOCK, Texas — Indian Hills hasn't always led after the first day of play on the way to winning the last two NJCAA Division I Men's National Golf Tournaments.
But the Warriors certainly haven't faced a first-day deficit like this recently.
After working hard through the first half of their first round Tuesday at the national tournament, the Warriors saw their opening 18-hole score blow apart in the winds of West Texas. Mistake after mistake sank IHCC farther and farther down the leader board, dropping IHCC from third place midway through round one to 16th place by the end of day one.
Indian Hills will tee off early today at 7:30 a.m. 13 shots behind first-round co-leaders Midland and Odessa. Third-ranked IHCC's first round of 304 leaves them with a lot of shots and even more teams to navigate around over the next three days and 54 holes in order to win a third consecutive national championship.
"We didn't play too well," Indian Hills head coach Mike Hagen said. "Kevin (Workman) got off to a hot start. He was three-under par through 11 and ended up shooting a 76. Ben (Ludlam) couldn't battle back after a little bit of a slow start. William (White) had the most consistent day and still only shot a 74. Even Connor (Peck's) 75 was up and down and Mitch (Tucker) couldn't make any birdies."
"We just dug ourselves into a hole."
Thanks to Workman, who found himself among the top five Warrior scorers after finishing second individually at the NJCAA District III Tournament, IHCC was able to hang around despite a somewhat slow start from the rest of the IHCC golfers. High winds began to pick up as the Warriors teed off on the 11th hole, leading to several more errors that ballooned the scores of every Indian Hills golfer.
"Kevin's start obviously helped, and we started to make a little bit of a run to get to third, then the wheels just came off," Hagen said. "The wind really started to pick up, and we did not handle it well at all."
Indian Hills has little time to dwell on the disappointing day after finishing at around 9 p.m. This morning's 7:30 a.m. tee off means the Warriors have to be ready to hit The Rawls Course with a short memory if they hope for a big bounce-back round.
"We're just kind of beside ourselves, and the thing is we have to turn right back around and get back on the course," Hagen said. "We have to put this behind us and we have to put up something low early on, then head back to hotel and hope the winds pick up again on those guys going out later."
"It's not make or break. We could make up 13 shots in one round. We are more likely going to have to chip away at it. We need to put ourselves in a better position over the next three rounds to get this done."
NJCAA Division I Men's National Golf Tournament
At The Rawls Course, Lubbock
Team scoring — T1. Midland 291, T1. Odessa 291, 3. McLennan 294, T4. Iowa Western 295, T4. Scottsdale 295, 6. Johnson County 296, 7. USC-Lancaster 297, 8. Wallace State 298, T9. Central Alabama 299, T9. Brevard 299, 11. Darton 300, T12. Garden City 302, T12. Hutchinson 302, T14. New Mexico Junior College 303, T14. Wake Tech 303, 16. Indian Hills 304, 17. Eastern Arizona 306, T18. Meridian 307, T18. Dodge City 307, T18. Faulkner State 307, T18. Western Texas 307, T22. North Idaho 309, T22. Pima 309, 24. Trinidad State 317.
Leader — Chandler McDonald (USC-Lancaster) 68.
Second — Alex Forristal (Johnson County) 69.
IHCC individuals — T27. William White 74, T36. Connor Peck 75, T53. Kevin Workman 76, T91. Mitch Tucker 79, T106. Ben Ludlam 80.