GREENSBORO, N.C. – Methodist University opened a two-stroke lead after 18 holes of the O'Briant-Jensen Memorial Men's Golf Tournament Monday. The Monarchs shot six-over-par 290 on the par-71, 6,822-yard Sedgefield Country Club-Dye Course to lead the 20-team field.
Two-time defending tournament champ Huntingdon College sits in second after an opening 292, four strokes ahead of host Guilford College (296). Carnegie Mellon University (298) and Calvin College (300) round out the top-five teams.
Huntingdon's Mark Connelly overcame occasionally rainy and windy conditions to fire a three-under 71 and take a two-stroke lead over Carnegie Mellon's Trevor Arashiro and Greensboro College's Grant Powell. Connelly had five birdies and played the track's 11 par-four holes at a tourney-best two-under, as did Powell. Huntingdon's Stephen Shephard sits fourth after a double bogey on his final hole left him with an even-par 71.
Methodist put all four of its scorers among the top-nine finishers. Aaron Purviance and Jared Chinn are two of four golfers tied for fifth place at 72. The Monarchs' Henry Angier and Chris Drysdale shot 73 and headline a cluster of seven tied for ninth place. Methodist's fifth man, Larkin Gross, sits 16th after a first-round 74. Ranked fifth in the Golfweek poll and sixth according to Golfstat.com, the Monarchs combined for 13 birdies and one eagle Monday.
Ranked first by the coaches and second by Golfstat.com, Huntingdon has three students among the top-16, including Connelly and Shephard.
Zach Evens' one-over 72 paced the host Quakers, ranked ninth by Golfweek and 17th in the Golfstat.com ratings. The sophomore made the turn at two over, but three straight birdies got him to one under after 12 holes. Bogeys on 17 and 18 dropped him into the four-way tie for fifth place. Guilford's Josh Hill and Jake Lee both carded 73 and share 16th place. Rookie Louis Lambert shot 76 in his college debut to account for Guilford's fourth score and hold a share of 36th place. The Quakers dropped Harrison Frye's 80.
Guilford also fielded a 'B' team, which shot 308 and is tied for ninth. Kell Graham paced the side with a 73, followed by Bradley Calloway's 74. Terence Schmutz provided a 79, good for a share of 64th place, and one shot ahead of Addison Manring. Guilford's Parker Hughes shot 90 in his college debut.
The O'Briant-Jensen dates to 1978 and is named for Guilford Athletics Hall of Famer Tom O'Briant '49, his wife, Bettie, and legendary Quakers' golf coach Jack Jensen. This year's field features seven top-25 teams according to the Golfweek Poll, and six of the top-17 squads in the current Golfstat.com Relative Rankings. Methodist is bidding for its tournament-record 10th team title.
The event concludes with 18 holes Tuesday beginning at 9:00 a.m.