MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Charleston Southern redshirt junior Jake Ezell sits in a tie for 15th place through 36 holes at the General Hackler Championship following Saturday's play at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. Ezell and senior Austin James fired two-under par 70's in the first round to pace CSU in the elite field featuring nine of the nation's top-50 programs.
*Note: Sunday's scheduled final round of the General Hackler was cancelled due to inclement weather. The event is official since 36 holes were completed. CSU will next compete March 26-28 at The Hootie at Bulls Bay.
Ezell followed his 70 with a 75 to go one-over for the day, just one stroke back of a six-way logjam for ninth in the field of 84 players. James (70-77-177 (+3)) is T-28th a year after placing third in the event. CSU (297-305-602 (+26)) is 15th as a team, ahead of North Carolina State by a shot. Final round play is slated to begin Sunday at 8:30 a.m., although forecasted rain and wind could impact that.
Wake Forest enjoys a healthy ten-stroke lead at 15-under 561. Kent State is in second place, while LSU, at -3, is the only other club in the field in red numbers. The Demon Deacons' Will Zalatoris holds the individual lead at -9 following rounds of 68 and 67. Kent State's Ian Holt is a shot behind, and Zalatoris's Wake Forest teammate, Paul McBride, is two back.
CSU put together one of its better rounds of the season with a +9 effort on the morning 18. Ezell and James each posted 70's, while junior Jacques Wilson chipped in a 75. Classmate Art Griffin, in his spring debut, scored an 80 but settled down with a 76, highlighted by an eagle at the par-five eighth, in the afternoon.
Ezell was +2 through ten holes before playing his final eight of round one at -4. He rattled home birdie putts at all three remaining par-five's – No.'s 4, 8 and 13 – and the par-three fifth. James had a similar arc to his opening round as he played his final nine holes in -4. He recorded four birdies in a seven-hole span from holes six through 12.
Ezell (73) and Griffin (74) had the best efforts of the afternoon for coach Todd Selders' Bucs, just ahead of Wilson and James, who each tallied 77's.