OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Florida State freshman Jack Maguire’s first round of collegiate golf competition will be one he remembers for a long time.
Maguire fired a 1-under par 69 on the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club Friday to lead the 13th-ranked Seminoles, who are tied for sixth after the first round of the Fighting Illini Invitational. The St. Petersburg, Fla. native, one of three freshmen in coach Trey Jones’ lineup, was one of only four players in the 75-man field under par on a day wind blew steadily between 15-25 mph.
Jones wasn’t the only youngster to make his mark on the par-70 course that has played host to four majors. Freshman Josh Lee (Orange Park, Fla.) overcame bogeys on his first three competitive collegiate holes to shoot 73. Redshirt freshman Cristobal Del Solar opened the day with birdies at Nos. 1 and 3 and finished with a 74.
Jones could not have been happier with how his youngest players performed against a field that includes eight nationally-ranked teams, headed by first-round leader and defending NCAA champion Alabama.
“It showed why we recruited them so hard,” Jones said at the end of the round. “I told the team last night that they were going to quickly migrate from junior golf to adult golf, as hard as Olympia Fields is. It was just a tough day and I was really pleased how the three freshmen were a combined 6-over par.”
Sophomores Hank Lebioda and Collin Engelhardt, the only Seminoles with any collegiate experience making the trip to the Chicagoland area, shot 79 and 80, respectively.
Top-ranked Alabama carded a 1-over total of 281 behind a tournament-leading round of 67 by Trey Mullinax and a 69 by Bobby Wyatt, who is tied with Maguire for third place after 18 holes. The Crimson Tide hold a 10-shot lead over No. 8 Oklahoma State (291, +11). Texas Tech and No. 3 Texas are tied for third (292, +12), followed by defending tournament champion, No. 7 Arkansas (294, +14).
The 13th-ranked Seminoles (295, +15), who spent a good portion of the opening round near the top of the leaderboard, are tied for sixth with No. 9 Stanford, Baylor and host, No. 14 Illinois.
“You’ve arguably got the best teams in the country here,” said Jones, noting that four players in the field participated in last week’s Walker Cup, the most prestigious amateur team event in the world. “It’s an unbelievably talented field.”
Despite their youth, the Seminoles proved early on that they deserved to be among the elite field.
Jones was especially impressed with Lee’s resilience after the bogey-bogey-bogey start.
“It shows a lot of game and a lot of heart,” Jones said. “Those two things are going to be fun to watch develop over the next few years.”
Walking the round with Maguire, Jones couldn’t help but be impressed by the long driver and precision ball-striker. Armed with the yardage book he carried when former Seminole great Brooks Koepka played Olympia Fields as a freshman – and shot an opening-round 78 – gave Jones some perspective of how well Maguire played.
Maguire birdied the par-4 12th hole to get within one shot of part on the day, which was where he stood when he stepped to the tee at No. 15 – a monstrous, 576-yard par-5. Maguire bombed his drive then hit a 6-iron to the front of the green, before an unlucky bounce rolled to a stop, 60-feet from the pin. He drained the eagle putt – one of only two opening-round eagles from the field – from the back of the green to get to 1-under, where he would finish his day.
The Seminoles will open second-round play Saturday beginning at 9 a.m., paired with players from Stanford and Illinois. You can follow the second-round action via live scoring at: http://www.golfstatresults.com/public/index.cfm?tournament_id=4499