Golf: Howard has roller coaster first round at Division III championships

Golf: Howard has roller coaster first round at Division III championships

DESTIN, Fla. – Cory Howard survived a roller coaster first round at the NCAA Division III Championships on Tuesday. Howard shot a four-over par 76 on the Sandestin Golf Resort Links Course.

Howard's round had a little of everything. He had five birdies in the round, including one on each of the par 5s, and three bogeys and double bogeys each.

Despite the disappointing start, Howard was upbeat about the remaining three rounds to be played on the Raven Course. Last fall, he won the Golfweek Fall Preview on the same course.

"I'm really looking forward to the next three days," Howard said. "I'm putting well and I'll be playing on a course I enjoy. I had some good shots turn bad today and this is a tight course that is tough with the wind."

Head coach Lee Richter had similar comments about the first round.

"Cory had an up and down day for sure," Richter said. "He was striking the ball good and his putting saved him on several holes."

The sophomore's putting was on display for the round's first five holes. Starting on the 10th hole, Howard was two-under par for his first five holes.

Howard got up and down from the sand to save par on two of the first three holes. He drained a 15-foot putt on the third hole for par.

After each of the saves for par, Howard would birdie a par five. He just missed a birdie on the par 4 14th hole and had only six putts on the first five holes.

Howard ran into trouble over the next four holes. He had back-to-back double bogeys and a bogey to make the turn at 3-over par.

On 18, Howard had his tee shot go right and land under a tree off the fairway. He caught a break when his second shot hit a tree and the ball ended up in the fairway, otherwise it was headed into the water. He chipped onto the green, only to have his par putt lip out for a bogey.

Howard regrouped on the first two holes of his "back" nine. He had back-to-back birdies on holes 1 and 2 to get back to one-over.

But Howard went four-over par over the next five holes. He had a tee shot go out of bounds on the par 4 7th hole but chipped in from just off the green to escape with a bogey.

Howard finished his see-saw round with a par on 8, and then birdied the par-5 9th. He finished the day tied for 48th, seven shots back of first round leader Jeff Wells of Methodist.