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May 31, 2006

SUNRIVER, Ore. — Freshmen Florian Fritsch (Wiesloch, Germany) and Allen Koon (Bamberg, S.C.) led the South Carolina men’s golf team Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, played at Crosswater Golf Club (Par 72 — 7,630 yards) in Sunriver, Ore. The Gamecocks fired a four-over par 292 and share 16th-place among the 30-team field.

Play continues Thursday and Friday before the field is cut in half for Saturday’s final round. South Carolina tees off in Thursday’s second round at 4:47 p.m. EDT.

“The course setup and weather conditions were perfect for low scores, as shown by Wake Forest’s 11-under par, so I have mixed emotions about our four-over par performance,” head coach Puggy Blackmon said. “Our two freshmen once again stepped up and kept us in the game.”

Fritsch played his final nine holes with seven pars, one birdie and one eagle on the par-five sixth hole. He shot a two-under par 70 and sits tied for 15th on the individual leader board.

“Following a poor start, Florian Fritsch posted a three-under par 33 on the final nine holes, which included an incredible 50-foot eagle on the 635-yard sixth hole,” Blackmon said. “Florian showed me today that with proper mental preparation, he has the ability to go deep.”

Koon carried the momentum from his strong East Regional finish into the NCAA Championship. The rookie shot an even par 72 Wednesday on the strength of three birdies in his first nine holes. He is tied for 51st

“Allen Koon continues to impress me with his course management and patience,” Blackmon noted. “He is on the verge of a low number.”

Warren Thomas (Columbia, S.C.) posted a two-over par 74 to put him in a tie for 84th.

“Warren Thomas did a great job keeping his focus and grinding out a 74,” Blackmon said. “Warren is learning rapidly, and following a session this afternoon to tweak his step, I expect him to make a major impact.”

Senior Eirik Johansen (Stavanger, Norway) carded a first-round 76 and is tied for 117th, while sophomore Mark Anderson (Beaufort, S.C.) recorded a 77, placing him in a tie for 135th.

“Faulty putters negated good ball-striking rounds by Eirik Johansen and Mark Anderson,” Blackmon said. “They are our most experienced players and need to step up if we are to make a run.

The Gamecocks are tied with Lamar, BYU and Northwestern. Wake Forest owns the team lead after an 11-under round of 277. The Demon Deacons’ Kyle Reifers is in first individually after firing a seven-under par 65.

“The thing I like about this team is that they have a tight bond and don’t allow each other to get down,” Blackmon added. “Following an upbeat practice session, we’ll have to handle a late tee time tomorrow and a lot of downtime.”

South Carolina Individuals
T15 Florian Fritsch 70 (-2)
T51st Allen Koon 72 (E)
T84th Warren Thomas 74 (+2)
T117th Eirik Johansen 76 (+4)
T135th Mark Anderson 77 (+5)