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18 May 2007
Bryan's (Swan) Song? JSU's Lone Senior
the Lone Highlight at East Regional

By Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — All the ingredients were there for Bryan Rozier to have the round Jacksonville State's golf team needed to keep its opening round in the NCAA East Regional from being a total bust.

The Gamecocks' lone senior shot 3-under-par 69 on the Golf Club of Georgia's Lakeside Course Thursday, easily the only positive after a 303 team score left them tied for 16th. They're 19 shots behind leader Georgia Tech, three shots out of a spot in the desirable Saturday morning pairing and six shots out of the 10th and final qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship.

The Ohio Valley Conference champions might be well off the team pace, but Rozier was among three players tied for third, only two shots behind individual leader Cameron Tringale of Georgia Tech.

“Well, it was a good day for Bryan,” JSU coach James Hobbs said. “Sixty-nine is going to be a real, real good score.”

Rozier typically has played his best golf late in the college season, but how could he not shoot low on this day? Consider:

He already graduated, so there were no academic pressures hanging over his head. He had three weeks to sharpen his game after the OVC Championship. He's played well in the NCAA Regionals before, shooting 68 in the final round at Yale three years ago. And he was playing close to his home in nearby Acworth.

“It's definitely a load off to be graduated. I was done with finals before conference; that never hurts the scoring average, I'm sure,” he said. “With today, I just played well.

“I didn't play perfect, there are some things I need to go work on that you have to do around here and it could have burnt me a couple times, but I played well.

Rozier's 69 was his seventh round in the 60s as a Gamecock and two strokes shy of his best college round — and it could have been better.

He birdied three of his first five holes and three of his last four, leaving a long eagle putt on his last hole inside two feet. But he took a double-bogey on the par-5 18th, hitting two shots from the back greenside bunker and three-putting, and played 17 and 18 in 3-over-par.

“The bogey on 17, that didn't bother me at all,” Rozier said. “The double on 18 was horrible. I had 17 really good holes today, and that one … Not to say it was a bad round or anything, but it definitely put a big blemish on it.”

He wasn't alone in finding trouble at 18. Teammate Marcus Harrell took a triple-bogey there after hitting two balls in the water, but he didn't have it as bad as Devin Carrey of UL-Lafayette. Carrey, playing with JSU's Johann Lee in the second group of the day, took a 13 there and never hit the water.

The Gamecocks have never gotten off to a good start in any of their NCAA Division I Regional appearances, and Thursday's round continued the trend. They got 79s from Harrell and Lee, but their two top players, Danny Willett and Julian Colmenares, shot 78 and 77, respectively.

“It won't be a good day if our key players don't have their good days,” Hobbs said. “I don't think Danny and Julian probably had their good days today, but, then again, you don't have good days every day. But you don't have a day where you have to count a 79 and throw out a 79 and the other two scores you count are 77, 78. Obviously, we didn't get it done in four spots today.”

If the Gamecocks want solace, it's in the fact they played their last nine holes — the easier front side of the golf course — in even par. And that's the side they'll start on today.

Four years ago, at Auburn, they followed a 302 opening round with a 287 that got them in the desirable Saturday morning wave. Three years ago at Yale, they followed a 306 first round with the Regional's best round of the day (282). Both years they closed with 299s and failed to advance.

“You've got to keep yourself in it, you can't be too far behind,” Harrell said. “There are a lot of good people here, you've got to shoot good. You can always come back out here, but we're way behind, for sure.”

JSU in NCAA East Regional
Today: Golf Club of Georgia, 11:12 a.m.

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Star.

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