Koppenberg in the hunt after first day
May 20, 2009
BLAINE, Wash. -
JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Jake Koppenberg left the opening round of the NCAA Division II National Men's Golf Championship on Tuesday, May 19, happy to be in the hunt after a solid first day.
It wasn't a perfect day for Western Washington University's lone representative, but finishing at 2-over 73 and tied for 13th overall on a blustery day at one of the biggest tournaments of his career was just fine by him.
The tournament continues at Loomis Trail Golf Club in Blaine on Wednesday, May 20. The second round tees off at 8:10 a.m. Gene Webster of Cal-State University-San Bernardino leads the field at 1-under 70.
"Really 2-over is not that bad," Koppenberg said. "It could have gone the other way pretty quickly if a couple of shots went the wrong way, but the scores weren't that low today. I wish I would have played a little better, but I'm not too disappointed."
Neither was the enthusiastic crowd of supporters who followed the senior throughout the round. Koppenberg's crew cheered with each shot that landed on the green and clapped politely when he tapped in his putts.
"It's awesome to have friends out here," Koppenberg said. "Of course I want to please them and hit good shots so sometimes it's frustrating when bad shots happen, but its fun to have people cheering for you."
Koppenberg certainly gave the gallery enough to cheer about. He birdied the fifth and 14th hole and positioned himself nicely for a possible run at the individual title.
"That score should put me in a pretty good position," Koppenberg said. "Three back after one day is nothing out on a course like this. We'll see what happens."
The shot of the day, though, easily belonged to Matt Ewald of Washburn University (Kansas). Ewald aced the par-4 13th hole and finished the day tied for seventh at 1-over. The hole-in-one came on the fourth hole of his round -his group started from the 10th tee - and was the first of his career.
"It was a great feeling," Ewald said. "Of course at the time that put me at minus three and I finished at plus one so I didn't play that great today, but it was awesome."
Five golfers finished at even par to tie for second place on the individual leaderboard, while Barry University (Florida) and Sonoma State (California) are tied at 9-over 293 atop the team standings.
For Koppenberg, just the chance to finish his college career at the national championship tournament on a course near home was enough to put a smile on his face.
"This being my last tournament, I'm trying to enjoy it as much as possible," Koppenberg said. "I am competitive, but I tell myself to smile and have fun. When you're out there you want to shoot the best round you can. I'm sure on that last day everything will start to come together and I'll start really enjoying it, but right now it's kind of business for me. I'm staying focused."
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