East Tennessee State’s golf team grabbed the lead at the 21st annual Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club on Friday, shattering the first-round scoring record along the way. The Bucs posted an 18-under-par 270 total, thanks in part to a tournament record-tying 63 by Japanese sophomore Shiso Go.
“We’ve had some good days, but this was a great day,” Warren, ETSU’s veteran coach, said. “To be honest, we got off to a good start and then got kind of sluggish. On the back side, we started playing better and the guys started making some putts.”
ETSU, which holds a six-shot lead over Kent State heading into Saturday’s second round, broke the first-round record by four shots. Two teams — Clemson in 1998 and TCU in 2001 — had opened with a 274 total.
The Bucs just missed the overall single-round scoring record of 269, set by Virginia during the second round in 2016.
In addition to Go’s nine-under-par performance, ETSU got rounds of 66 from Trevor Hulbert, 68 from Jack Rhea and 73 from Geuntae Kim. Freshman Dhaivat Pandya’s 78 didn’t count in the team total.
“Shiso played great, Trevor came in with a 66 and Jack had another solid round, that all really helped,” Warren said. “Guentae hung in there after a tough start. I’m proud of all the guys.”
The Bucs had gotten solid play from three players for much of the fall season and they needed a fourth score to put it all together. Enter Hulbert, who capped a bogey-free round with birdies on his final two holes to close with a back-nine 31.
“I just tried to do the best I could today,” Hulbert said. “I’ve been hitting it well these past couple of days. It was fun. I kind of stopped and realized on 17, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had in a while on a golf course.’ ”
Rhea, who finished tied for fourth in this tournament last year as a freshman, had six birdies. ETSU led the field with 27 birdies, including four “twos” on the par-3 12th hole.
This day belonged to Go, who pumped his first when his four-foot birdie putt on the final hole found the bottom of the cup. His 63 tied the record he set last year. It was also equaled on Friday by Louisville’s Zach Simon.
“It was exciting, but it’s still the first day,” Go said. “There is still a lot of golf left. I just tried to stay calm and do my golf, hit fairways and greens and make my putts.”
Louisville and Tennessee were tied for third at 277, while Missouri was fifth at 281. Ten of the 14 teams shot under par.
Go and Simon shared the individual lead and were three shots clear of the field. Hulbert was tied for third with Virginia Tech’s Connor Johnson Jr., Kent State’s Bjarki Petursson and Wake Forest’s Alex Fitzpatrick, who is playing as an individual.
Go, who had shot 63 last year as a freshman, recently returned from Singapore where he finished 30th in the Asia Pacific Amateur.
“He’s a player,” Warren said. “Shiso’s special. Obviously, he’s a great talent but he’s also got great focus. I thought he would play well. He just looked like he was really focused. It’s a great round and he’s capable of that on any course.”
The Bucs have never won their own tournament. They’ve finished second three times and last led after the first round in 2013.
The 54-hole event continues Saturday and concludes Sunday.