GREENSBORO, N.C. - Senior Cory Howard led a back nine charge to lift the LaGrange golf team into a tie for third after the first round of the NCAA Division III Championship at the Grandover Resort West Golf Course.
The Panthers had a team score of 4-over par 292 and are tied with Illinois Wesleyan. Methodist is the first round leader with a score of 284 and Redlands is one shot back at 285.
Howard shot a five-under par 67 and sits one shot back of LaVerne's Kelby Scharmann. Howard had five birdies on the back nine, including a stretch of three in a row.
The Panthers were sluggish at the start of their round. At one point, they were tied for 16th in the standings. As they finished the front nine, the Panthers sat in 15th place.
"We got off to a slow start and I think we were rusty because we had not played since the conference tournament," Coach Lee Richter said. "We finally started playing like we were supposed to and made up some ground.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I feel better than I did earlier in the afternoon."
Sophomore Logan Lanier followed Howard with a 73. Freshman Ryan Najim followed with a 75, then Osborn Theam with a 77 and Eric Havixbeck an 80. Najim and Theam both birdied their final holes to help Howard move the Panthers up the standings.
The Panthers tee off at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday on the East Course.