The ETSU men’s golf team couldn’t have scripted a better start.
Playing on their home turf, the Buccaneers fired an 18-under-par 270 to take a six-shot lead into the clubhouse following first round play at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate on Friday from the Blackthorn Club at The Ridges.
ETSU totaled 27 birdies on the afternoon – nine of which came from Shiso Go (Kanagawa, Japan) – who tied his own tournament record with a 9-under 63. The Buccaneer sophomore was flawless on Friday as he tallied five birdies and four pars on the front nine and collected four birdies and five pars on the back en route to holding a share of the lead with Louisville’s Simon Zach.
Go, who set the tournament record a with a 63 in the second round last year, registered four birdies over a five-hole stretch on the front, while he birdied No. 12, 13, and 14 before finishing with his ninth birdie on the par-4, 436-yard 18th.
“It was exciting, but it’s still the first day,” Go said. “There is still a lot of golf left. I just tried to stay calm and do my golf, hit fairways and greens and make my putts.”
Head coach Fred Warren said Go was focused all afternoon.
“He’s a player,” Warren said. “Shiso’s special. Obviously, he’s a great talent but he’s also got great focus. I thought he would play well. He just looked like he was really focused. It’s a great round and he’s capable of that on any course.”
The Bucs got off to a solid start by generating six birdies over the first two holes; however, ETSU made its move up the leaderboard after the turn. From holes No. 10-14, the Bucs who turned in countable scores played the stretch at 11-under-par – collecting 11 birdies over that span.’
“We’ve had some good days, but this was a great day,” said Warren, whose Bucs hold the first round lead at this tournament for the first time since 2013. “To be honest, we got off to a good start and then got kind of sluggish. On the back side, we started playing better and the guys started making some putts.”
As a team, ETSU – who leads No. 50 Kent State by six strokes – registered the second-lowest round in tournament history with its 270. The Golden Flashes are at 12-under 276, while No. 6 Tennessee and No. 12 Louisville are tied for third at 11-under-par 277.
Go wasn’t the only Buccaneer making putts as redshirt junior Trevor Hulbert (Orlando, Fla.) recorded the lowest round of his collegiate career by carding a 6-under 66. Hulbert was also mistake-free, as he totaled six birdies and 12 pars to sit tied for third on the leaderboard. Like Go, Hulbert also birdied No. 12, 13, 14, while finishing with consecutive birdies on No. 17 and 18.
Hulbert is one of four players who are three shots back of Go and Simon.
Sophomore Jack Rhea (Jonesborough, Tenn.), who led the Blue and Gold at this tournament a year ago, is tied for 13th at 4-under 68. Rhea collected three birdies, five pars and one bogey on both the front and back nine en route to tying his lowest round of the season.
Second round action gets underway Saturday morning at 8:30, while ETSU, who is paired with Tennessee and Kent State, go out at 10:10.