NINETY SIX, S.C. – Campbell tied Big South men's golf championship records for lowest round and most strokes below par Friday to take a 3-shot edge over Liberty after the first round at The Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor.
The second-seeded Camels combined for a 15-under-par 273 on the par-72, 7120-yard Davis Love III design to equal the marks set by Coastal Carolina in the 2012 second round. Defending champ and top-seeded Liberty finished the day as 12-under 276, while Gardner-Webb is third (282) in the nine-team field.
Thomas La Morte and Jesper Svensson both shot 5-under-par 67 to take the individual lead by one stroke over Liberty's Mickey DeMorat. Campbell freshman Brett McLamb is in a four-way tie for fourth place at 3-under 69. CU sophomore Ray Kraivixien is tied for eighth at 2-under-par 70.
"It was an outstanding performance and one of those days when they were seeing the shots, trusting their skills and producing good results. Of course, it always helps to make a few putts, and they were doing that too," said Campbell head coach John Crooks.
As a team, the Camels played the par-five holes at 13-under and were even on the par three layouts to lead the field in both categories. CU made 27 birdies, tops on the day.
Campbell's 273 was the fourth-lowest round in the program's history and stands as the best score ever for the Camels in conference tournament play.
The only blemish on La Morte's scorecard was a bogey on the par-four 16th hole, but the junior from Demarest, N.J., recovered with birdies at the par-three 17th and par-five 18th. His round included six birdies (four on the back side) to trail only Svensson and McLamb in the category. La Morte was 1-under on the par-three holes (tied for second) and 3-under on the par-five layouts (also second-best).
Like La Morte, Svensson had only one bad hole – a double-bogey on 16, but he also finished birdie, birdie to match his opening round at last year's Big South tourney. The 2016 Big South freshman of the year, Svensson is atop the Big South leader board after 18 holes for the second-straight year. Last season, he finished fourth.
Playing in his first-ever league championship, McLamb matched Svensson with seven birdies on the day, most in the 45-golfer field. The native of Coats, N.C., led the field in par-4 scoring (4-under), while Svensson was 2-under on the par-3 holes, best for the day, and minus-3 on the par fives.
Kraivixien made the turn at 3-under and his round included five birdies. He played the par fives 2-under and was even on the par-3 and par-4 holes. Senior Craig Hornberger finished at 2-over 74 to tie for 26th place, but he made eagle on the par-5 fifth and played the par fives at 4-under, best in the field.
"Thomas was just very consistent all day, kept the ball in play and gave himself a lot of chances," said Crooks. "Jesper's playing at a very high level right now, but if you asked either, both would say that it could have been better out there today. When you're playing with confidence, golf is a little easier and right now they are doing just that."
Campbell's previous best score in a league tournament was a 276 at the 2011 Atlantic Sun Championship on a par-71 layout. CU re-joined the Big South Conference in 2011-12. Campbell has finished as runner-up the last two years at The Patriot.
Saturday's second round is set to begin at 8:00 a.m. with the lead groups starting at 9:40 a.m. The final round gets underway Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Live scoring is available at Golfstat.com.
2017 Big South Conference Men's Golf Championship
Ninety Six, S.C. / The Patriot GC
Apr. 21-23, 2017 / Par 72, 7120 Yards
First Round Team Results: 1. Campbell 273, 2. Liberty 276, 3. Gardner-Webb 282, 4. Charleston Southern 289, 5. High Point 292, 6. Winthrop 293, 7. Longwood 294, 8. Radford 295, 9. Presbyterian 297.
First Round Individual Leaders: T1. Thomas La Morte (Campbell) 67, T1. Jesper Svensson (Campbell) 67, 3. Mickey DeMorat (Liberty) 68, T4. Vincent Blanchette (Gardner-Webb) 69, T4. Gabe Lench (Liberty) 69, T4. Brett McLamb (Campbell) 69, T4. Payton Taylor (Liberty) 69.
Saturday, April 22 / 8:00am / Second Round
8:00-8:40am / Longwood, Radford, Presbyterian (No. 1 tee)
8:50-9:30am / Charleston Southern, High Point, Winthrop (No. 1 tee)
9:40-10:20am / Campbell, Liberty, Gardner-Webb (No. 1 tee)
Sunday, April 23 / 8:00am / Final Round
8:00-8:40am / 4th-place team, 5th-place team, 6th-place team (No. 1 tee)
8:30-9:10am / 7th-place team, 8th-place team, 9th-place team (No. 10 tee)
8:50-9:30am / 1st-place team, 2nd-place team, 3rd-place team (No. 1 tee)