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Strong finish puts CCU golf in contention

The Coastal Carolina men's golf team made a flurry of birdies late in its round to end the first day of the 110th NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship in second place.

The Chanticleers gained eight strokes against par in their final six holes late Wednesday afternoon to pull within two strokes of leader Stanford at 3-under-par 277 on the 6,803-yard, par-70 Golden Horseshoe Gold Course in Williamsburg, Va.

Florida, Minnesota and Texas are a shot behind Coastal in third on a tight leaderboard.

"We can't ask for much better,'' CCU coach Allen Terrell said. "We didn't play that great but we finished really well, which put us in a good position for the rest of the week.''

Senior All-American Dustin Johnson was the one player who didn't close with a salvo of birdies. His hot streak came with three consecutive birdies in the middle of his round and he closed out a 3-under-par 67 with eight straight pars. Individually, Johnson is in a four-way tie for third, three strokes behind leader Rob Grube of Stanford and one behind Tim McKenney of Florida.

Tied for 29th at even-par 70 are CCU juniors Zack Byrd of Calabash, N.C., and Lindsay Reynolds, and sophomore Cameron Hooper. Freshman Dan Obremski's 3-over 73 did not count toward the team's four-player total.

Byrd was 4-over par through 12 holes before making birdies on four of his final six holes, including his final two. Reynolds birdied three of his final four holes, and Hooper birdied three of his final five holes to survive a double bogey on his 17th hole.

The Chants made 20 birdies as a team, including seven by Byrd.

"It's just a golf course where you're going to make a lot of birdies,'' Terrell said. "We'll try to get rid of some of those bad holes and see if we can do a little bit better. We're really looking forward to [today]. We feel we have even better golf ahead of us.''

Last year the Chants were tied for 23rd after the first round before improving to a tie for 15th on the second day, but they have raced out to a fast start at the nationals before.

The Chants were tied for fourth before plummeting to 21st after the second day in their first finals appearance in 2005. That team featured three freshmen and two sophomores who were all making their first appearance in the finals. The team at Golden Horseshoe has four players who have made a combined eight appearances in the finals.

"From an experience point of view these guys are used to seeing their name near the top of the leaderboard so they're more comfortable with that,'' Terrell said.

"They're satisfied with getting off to a good start but know they have a lot of work ahead of us.''

The Chants are still looking to make their first nationals cut to the low 15 teams after three rounds in the 30-team tournament. They have second-round tee times from 8:35 a.m. to 9:13 a.m. this morning.