Chapel Hill Regional: Charlotte surprises, while Florida hits stride


Top team: Charlotte (13-under 275)

Top individual: William Register, North Carolina (6-under 66)

In position: 2. Florida (281); 3. Florida State and Clemson (284); 5. North Carolina (286)

Chasing: 6. Kennesaw State (287); 7. Stanford (290); 8. Penn State and GRU Augusta (292)

49ers seize the spotlight: Though powerhouse programs Florida State and Stanford – ranked Nos. 2 and 5, respectively, in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings – are in the field in Chapel Hill, N.C., the No. 52 team stole the show during Round 1.

The Charlotte 49ers, the No. 9 seed, shot a 13-under 275 at the UNC Finley Golf Course to build a six-shot lead over the vaunted field.

“I’m proud of the guys for getting off to a nice start in today’s opening round,” head coach Ryan Cabbage said in a release. “It was really a good team effort. We still have work to do but certainly excited to put ourselves in a good position after day one.”

Three Charlotte golfers are among the top 5, with Raoul Menard, Seth Gandy and Victor Wiggins tied for third after rounds of 68. Menard and Gandy set personal collegiate records with their opening rounds.

Gators hit their stride: The Gators picked a good time to shoot their best round in relation to par of the season.

After a 7-under 281, Florida sits in second place, three shots ahead of in-state rival Florida State and Clemson.

But first-year head coach J.C. Deacon said this round has been in the works for a week.

“Obviously, the score was really great, but this started about eight days ago, when (Ryan Celano) found out Alejandro (Tosti) probably wasn’t going to be able to play because of his sickness,” Deacon said in a release. “Ryan’s dedication, although it was good all year, went to another level, and that preparation paid off for him today. I’m really happy that his hard work showed today.”

Celano stepped in for Tosti, an SEC All-Freshman performer, and shot 3-under 69 Thursday to join A.J. Crouch (69) in leading the Gators.

Short shots: Despite hosting the regional event, North Carolina finds itself 11 shots off the lead through one round. Freshman William Register leads the individual race after an opening 66, but no other Tar Heels golfer is among the top 20, including freshman Benjamin Griffin, who is from Chapel Hill and won at the Finley Course in September. Griffin is tied for 50th at 75. … Stanford, which is in seventh after the first round, has finished outside the top 5 of an event only twice out of 11 tournaments this season, and has not done so since February.

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