By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor men's golf might not have locked down one of the five qualifying spots for the NCAA Championship, but Monday's opening round in the College Station Regional certainly put the Bears in position.
Led by sophomore Cooper Dossey's bogey-free round of 4-under-par 68, the second-seeded and 11th-ranked Baylor men shot 6-under 282 and sit in second place in the 13-team regional, a healthy 12 strokes above the potential cut line.
"You always feel like there's more in the tank, but we played well today," Baylor coach Mike McGraw said. "If you get behind the 8-ball on Day 1, now you're starting to put a lot of pressure on yourself for tomorrow. We're just trying to play the shot that's in front of us. We're not thinking about scoreboards too much."
If the Bears were looking at the scoreboard, they would see that only the host and second-ranked Texas A&M team is ahead of them. The Aggies' Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith are tied with Dossey at the top of the individual standings and shot 9-under-par 279 to grab the first-round lead in the 54-hole tournament.
"To open with that round was good, but we know that the team that was favored to win here (A&M) played a good round as well and they're obviously going to be tough to beat on this golf course," McGraw said.
With the first round playing almost true to seed, the only outlier in the top five is 38th-ranked South Carolina in fifth at 5-over 293. Clemson is just one shot behind Baylor at 5-under 283, followed by UCLA at even-par 288.
The top five teams advance to the NCAA Championship, which begins May 25 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. That leaves 34th-ranked Ole Miss as the odd team out after the first round, with the Rebels in sixth place at 6-over 294.
Dossey's smooth, bogey-free round was a stark contrast to his opening round at last month's Aggie Invitational at this same Traditions Golf Club. In his first tournament back after a 2 ½-month layoff from a wrist injury, he shot 12-over-par 84 in the opening round and tied for 61st in a 78-player field.
"The last time I was here, I was pretty rusty," he said. "I didn't think I was, but the first day I was really nervous the whole day and just didn't play well. I'm excited where I am right now, and hopefully I can just continue it and help my team out."
While Dossey was already a leader "in a lot of ways," McGraw said, "when you go out and shoot 4-under-par for your team the first day of regionals, you've done your job to help pull the team forward."
Junior Garrett May tied for the sixth-most birdies in the field with five and shot 2-under 70, tying for seventh and just two shots behind the 18-hole leaders.
"He was resilient all day long," McGraw said of May. "Every time he made a bogey, he bounced back (with a birdie). When he bogeyed the 18th hole, I was hoping they would let him go play one more just to see if he could bounce back. He's done a nice job this year, starting to mature, and the bad things don't seem to both him as much. He seems to be able to come back quicker."
Overcoming a bogey on the first hole, Matthew Perrine strung together four birdies and shot 1-under 71 to tie for 12th. Braden Bailey recorded the other scoring round at 1-over 73, while freshman Ryan Grider shot 4-over 76 in an up-and-down round that included four birdies, four bogeys and back-to-back double-bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7.
"Hopefully, the guys who didn't get the number they wanted today can go out and get that tomorrow," McGraw said. "And then the guys who played well today can continue that. I would love that."
Paired with Texas A&M and Clemson for the second straight day, Baylor will tee off from No. 1 beginning at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, with the final round on Wednesday. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com.
BRYAN, Texas -- Baylor men's golf is in second place after shooting 6-under-par 282 in Monday's first round of the NCAA Bryan Regional at Traditions Club. BU is 12 shots in front of sixth place, which is the cut to advance to the NCAA Championship.
The Bears (-6) are three shots back of the lead held by tournament-host and No. 2 nationally ranked Texas A&M (-9). Baylor leads No. 14 Clemson (-4), No. 26 UCLA (E), No. 38 South Carolina (+5), No. 34 Ole Miss (+6), Bradley (+9), No. 23 Kentucky (+10), Mississippi State (+12), No. 50 Georgia (+15), No. 47 San Francisco (+16), UNC Wilmington (+18) and Northern Colorado (+18).
Sophomore Cooper Dossey is in a three-way tie for first place in the 75-player field after shooting 4-under-par 68 in Monday's first round. Dossey made birdies on Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 8 before finishing his clean round with 10 consecutive pars. He's tied with Texas A&M's Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith, who are both playing on their home course.
Junior Garrett May is tied for seventh place after carding a 2-under 70. May posted a team-best five birdies, tied for sixth-most in the field. Senior Matthew Perrine is tied for 12th place at 1-under 71, and junior Braden Bailey posted the Bears' final counting score with a 1-over 73, which has him tied for 22nd place. Freshman Ryan Grider closed with a birdie on No. 18 to card a 4-over 76, tied for 49th place. Grider was 4-over through seven holes before playing even-par golf over the final 11 holes.
Cooper Dossey's 68 tied the 10th-best NCAA Tournament round in program history and tied the second-best score in an NCAA Tournament first round.
Baylor's 282 tied the eighth-best team round in an NCAA Tournament in program history.
Baylor's 282 was also the program's second-best first-round score in an NCAA Tournament, trailing only the 277 posted in the 2017 NCAA Stanford Regional.
This is the second consecutive season the Bears have been in second place after one round at an NCAA Regional. The Bears remained second after 36 holes last year and finished tied for first place.
Baylor is tied for the tournament lead in par-5 scoring at 8-under 4.60.
BU ranks tied for second in par-4 scoring at 2-over 4.04 and tied for sixth in par-3 scoring at 4-over 3.20.
Baylor's 19 birdies were fourth-most in the field during the first round, and the Bears tied for fifth with 56 pars.
Dossey is tied for the tournament lead in par-4 scoring at 2-under 3.80, tied for eighth in par-5 scoring at 2-under 4.50 and tied for 11th in par-3 scoring at even-par 3.00.
Garrett May is tied for fifth in par-4 scoring at 1-under 3.90 and tied for 11th in par-3 scoring at even-par 3.00.
Matthew Perrine is tied for the tournament lead in par-5 scoring at 3-under 4.25 and tied for 11th in par-3 scoring at even-par 3.00.
Braden Bailey is tied for 12th in par-4 scoring at even-par 4.00 and tied for seventh with 13 pars.
Ryan Grider, Bailey and May are tied for 23rd in par-5 scoring at 1-under 4.75.
Dossey made 10 consecutive pars to close the round and is tied for third in the field with 14 pars.
May is tied for sixth with five birdies, while Dossey, Grider and Perrine are tied for 13th with four birdies.
STAT OF THE DAY
1 -- Cooper Dossey was the only golfer in the 75-player field to post a bogey-free first round. He made four birdies and 14 pars, including 10 consecutive pars to finish his round.
"You always feel like there's more in the tank, but we played well today," head coach Mike McGraw said. "If you get way behind the eight ball on day one, you start putting a lot of pressure on yourself for tomorrow. We're trying to play the shot that's in front of us, and we're not thinking about scoreboards too much. To open with that round is good, but we know the team that's favored to win here played a good round as well, and they're obviously going to be tough to beat on this golf course."
Baylor is again paired with Texas A&M and Clemson for Tuesday's second round, and those groups will tee off from the first hole starting at 7:30 a.m. CT. Grider is up first for Baylor at 7:30 a.m., followed by Bailey at 7:41 a.m., Perrine at 7:52 a.m., May at 8:03 a.m. and Dossey at 8:14 a.m. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com. Follow @BaylorMGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates throughout the season.