Individually, freshman Thomas Dunne (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) leads the way for the Huskies, sitting in a tie for ninth after the opening 36 holes.
“Thomas has learned so much this year,” said NIU head coach Tom Porten. “He has matured this spring to the point where he has become our best player. He is a good course manager and his short game has improved dramatically this spring. The bad news is that we didn’t execute, outside of Thomas, and we just made too many mistakes today. The good news is that we still have half the tournament to play and we have a good chance to move up the leaderboard.”
NIU shot rounds of 301 (+13) and 306 (+18) at the home of Huskie golf.
NIU sits two strokes behind Akron for fifth place, as well as only five strokes back of Toledo for fourth. It was a difficult day for just about the entire field, as the scoring average checked in at 75.47 during the first round. Kent State was the exception. The Golden Flashes navigated the revered layout in 12-under-par to set the pace at the tournament’s halfway point.
Dunne led NIU with rounds of 74 and 73 on the summery first day of the event. Dunne’s day places him as the top Huskie on the individual leaderboard at 3-over-par. The Dublin, Ohio native is competing with Toledo’s Chris Selfridge for the MAC Freshman of the Year, who shot even par over the first two rounds.
The other Huskie making his presence felt at his home course was junior Paul Hammerschmidt (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central). Playing out of the team’s number-five tee time, Hammerschmidt produced one of the team’s highlights of the day when he drained a 15-foot downhill putt for birdie on the 12th in the opening round. Hammerschmidt finished at seven-over-par after pairing rounds of 73 and 78.
Rounding out the NIU lineup were Bryce Emory (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy), Kurtis Luedtke (Aurora, Ill./West), and Griffin Bauman (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central), who tied for 24th, 32nd, and 37th, respectively.
Moving day at the four-round championship begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Rich Harvest Farms.
For more information on NIU men’s golf and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.