Iceland isn’t a typical proving ground for aspiring college golfers, but the island just south of the Arctic Circle has produced some Division I talent.
You can now add Gudmundur Kristjansson to the list.
The East Tennessee State freshman opened his college career last weekend with a sixth-place finish at the Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C. Kristjansson — he’s already picked up the nickname of Kris — shot 68 in the first round at the UNC Finley Course and finished the tournament at 214, two under par.
“I first saw him play at the Junior Orange Bowl (in Florida), and I watched him again at a tournament in South Carolina,” said ETSU coach Fred Warren, who has recruited a steady flow of European players through the years. “I know what people think when they hear Iceland, but it has actually sent quite a few good golfers over here. I think Mississippi State has one now, Charlotte has one, and there’s one down in Louisiana, I believe.
“I’m very impressed with Gudmundur. He’s a great young man and very talented. His father is a graduate of Coastal Carolina; he played soccer there.”
Kristjansson may have the game to make some news in the States, much to the chagrin of headline writers.
Warren said the 68 the youngster fired last Saturday is likely the lowest opening-round score ever by an ETSU freshman in his debut tournament in the coach’s 27 seasons here. And he expects to see much more of that kind of play in the coming days, weeks and years.
“Gudmundur has extremely good form from tee to green. He’s really gifted in that way,” said Warren. “I think he’s got the potential to be a very good player for us.”
Kristjansson is one of three freshmen Warren took to Chapel Hill. The other two players are sophomores.
“We’ve got four 19-year-olds and an 18-year-old,” said Warren. “It’s a young team, but it has a lot of potential.”
Sophomore Rhys Pugh finished a shot behind Kristjansson after closing with a 75. Winner of the European Amateur earlier this summer, the Welshman entered the final round just three shots out of the lead, but he fell back with bogies on three of his last four holes.
The Bucs finished fifth in a field of 14 teams. They head to the Legends Club in Franklin this weekend for the Mason Rudolph Invitational hosted by Vanderbilt.
“It’s another good field for us early on,” said Warren. “We’re kind of learning as we go.”
The conference opener turned out to be a tough assignment for the ETSU volleyball team.
The Bucs went to Mercer on Tuesday night and were promptly swept 25-23, 25-16 and 25-17 for their fourth loss in five matches. The Bears were picked seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference in the preseason; the Bucs were picked third, behind three-time defending champion Lipscomb and Florida Gulf Coast.
ETSU (9-6) will host South Carolina Upstate on Friday night, then take a week off before visiting Gulf Coast and Stetson.
The women’s soccer team gets started in conference play here Friday night at 7 against Stetson, then hosts preseason favorite Gulf Coast on Sunday at 1.
The Lady Bucs (6-2) had hoped to tune up with a victory last Friday at Longwood University in Virginia, but they were beaten 2-1. Their lone goal came on a free kick by junior Samantha Kron.
Ramey Kerns saw her six-match scoring streak come to an end. The junior striker still leads the A-Sun with nine goals; that’s four more than anyone else in the league.
Freshman Kaitlyn Hirko was named the A-Sun women’s runner of the week on Wednesday.
The Oley, Pa., native finished 10th in the Virginia Tech Invitational, clocking a time of 21:58.79 in the 6K race. The Lady Bucs were fourth in a nine-team field headed by second-ranked Florida State.
Hirko outran the entire Georgia Tech team and two runners from Florida State.
ETSU competes again Sept. 29 in the Louisville Classic, which will be run on the same course that hosts the NCAA Championships in November.