GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- The back nine at Midland Valley Country Club isn't nearly as easy as Brennen King and Kyle Bradley made it look Saturday in the first round of the Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational.
King, a Clemson golfer from Aiken, shot 4-under-par 32 on the inward nine and Bradley, a North Augusta High junior, had 33 with four birdies. They share the lead in the 120-player event with 2-under-par 69s.
Al Fortney of Girard, Ga., and Rusty Flanders of North Augusta, who is the greens superintendent at Midland Valley, shot 70s. After that came Trey Testino with a 71 and Rick Hamilton and Sam Mays Jr. with 72s.
Midland Valley is the tournament's new home after six years at Green Meadows Country Club (1964-1969) and then 28 years at Goshen Plantation.
The 20-year-old King, who will be a redshirt sophomore for the Tigers this fall, used his power game to good use on the closing holes. He eagled the par-5 16th hole, birdied the 17th and settled for par on the long 18th hole after lipping out his birdie chip.
On the 524-yard 16th hole, King's drive was so long all he needed was a 7-iron into the green. He knocked it within 2 feet of the hole and made the putt for eagle.
On No. 17, a 202-yard par-3, King hit a 6-iron to 8 feet of the hole and made that. On No. 18, a 465-yard par 4, King hit a 9-iron into the green.
"I had a great finish," King said. "I needed something after the front nine (a 2-over-par 37). I made some great saves for pars on the front. I was struggling a little off the tee."
King straightened out that problem on the back nine, picking up a birdie on the 10th hole, a par-5, and then producing his eagle-birdie-par finish. He didn't have a bogey on the back nine.
"I've been working really hard on my game lately," King said. "I'm trying to get my short game where I need it to be. I'm pretty satisfied with my game."
While King had two birdies and an eagle in his round, the 17-year-old Bradley struck for six birdies, a high number for a course as difficult as Midland Valley. Bradley's birdies fell on Nos. 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 and 16. On No. 12, he rolled in his longest putt of the day, a 30-footer.
"I played pretty good," Bradley said. "I hit a lot of greens and made a lot of putts."
Bradley hoped to have played in the South Carolina Class AAAA state golf tournament late last week. When the Yellow Jackets didn't qualify, he signed up for this tournament on Monday. He got one of the last three spots.
King played in two fall tournaments for the second-ranked Tigers this year and did not qualify for any spring events. Clemson finished second in the NCAA East Regional on Saturday, earning a trip to the NCAA Championships later this month.
"It's tough up there," King said. "I've shot 2, 3 or 4 under par in qualifying and didn't make it. The guys are really good. We're deep through our ninth man. When you go out there with six guys to qualify for one spot, it's brutal."
Two spots in the Clemson top five will open up next season when Charles Warren and Joey Maxon graduate this spring.
"I'm hoping to have a good summer and break through and be ready to play in the fall," King said.
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