Originally created 05/28/03

Augusta State starts at 20th



STILLWATER, Okla. - Oliver Wilson had the round of his life Tuesday in the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships. His Augusta State teammates also had unforgettable rounds, but for the opposite reason.

Wilson, the lone senior on the No. 2 Jaguars team, shot 2-under-par 70 at Karsten Creek Golf Club, a devilish course that surrendered just three under-par rounds to the 156 players in the first round.

The other four Augusta State golfers would like to wipe the round from their memories. Kalle Edberg had 77, James Heath 81, Emmett Turner 83 and Scott Jamieson 86.

Throwing out the high round, it added up to 23-over 311, or seven shots more than Augusta State shot for 54 holes when it won the Ping/GolfWeek Preview at Karsten Creek in November.

The 311 was one shot less than the season-high for Augusta State, but Wilson, Heath and Jamieson didn't play in that tournament, the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate.

"Thank God for Oliver," Augusta State coach Josh Gregory said. "Otherwise, we would have shot about 340."

With three more rounds to go, Augusta State is in 20th place in the 30-team event, 12 shots behind co-leaders Clemson, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State and Auburn, who shot 299s.

At least the Jaguars won't have to worry about making a cut. The cut, which took the top 15 teams after 36 holes, was discontinued after the 2001 tournament.

Augusta State did beat South Carolina (313) and Georgia (315). Georgia Tech had 310 to edge Augusta State by one.

Wilson has shot lower rounds - he had a 64 in the Cleveland Golf/Augusta State Invitational in April - but it wasn't on a course like Karsten Creek that is "incredible, it's so tough," Wilson said.

Wilson had three birdies and a bogey at the 7,290-yard course, where potential disasters lurk around every dogleg.

"It's the best I've ever had, by far - I'm not joking," Wilson said. "I'm ecstatic with that. I was just trying to hit the fairways and greens and get out of there with two putts. As soon as you get done with a hole, you'd count how many holes you've got left and try to hold on and get in."

Only one player in the field - Auburn's Lee Williams, who had 69 - beat Wilson. Chris Stroud of Lamar, who is playing as an individual, tied Wilson. The other under-par score, at 71, was shot by Matt Rosenfeld of Texas.

"Oliver's round might be the best round of golf I've ever seen," Gregory said. "To shoot 2-under. ... and he didn't make many putts. That's why he's one of the best players in the country. He can manage his game. He knows where he can miss it and where he can't. He thought his way really well around the course."

Some of Wilson's teammates could have used his course management skills.

"It was poor; we made too many double bogeys and triple bogeys," Gregory said. "This course will test you, to see who's got some patience and course management. We didn't have it today."

Augusta State managed its game well in the Ping Preview at Karsten Creek, but the course was tamer. Now, there is 4-inch-high rough, three new tee boxes and pin positions that "bordered on unfair out there," Gregory said.

"It was a lot different," Wilson said.

"Fortunately, it's hard for everybody else, too," Gregory said. "That's the frustrating part. Usually, my guys are at their best when the conditions are tough."

Wilson is aware that Minnesota was in 16th place after 36 holes of the 2002 NCAA Championships and came back to win.

"We'll talk about it and realize we're not out of it," Wilson said. "We're not where we want to be, but it's only the first day. Three more rounds around this place, you don't know what's going to happen."

LOCAL TIES: Eight golfers from the Augusta area are on various teams in the NCAA Championships. They are Augusta's Cortland Lowe of Wake Forest (74), Swainsboro's Will Claxton of Auburn (75), Aiken's Matt Hendrix of Clemson (76), Augusta's Adam Cranford of Georgia Tech (78), Aiken's Alex Hamilton of South Carolina (79), Augusta's Jay Mundy (81) of Auburn and Aiken's Kevin Kisner of Georgia (86).

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.