TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona men's golf team concluded the first day of the National Invitational Tournament (N.I.T.) at the OMNI Tucson National - Catalina course in second place on Friday.
The team ended the first day seven-under 281, which set them behind No. 3 California. California leads the field 20-under par. The Wildcats finished the first round over six ranked teams, including No. 2 Oklahoma State.
"We told the guys it's more about competing against ourselves," head coach Jim Anderson said. "We aren't worried about other teams. We are worried about what we're doing. They stayed patient today. The reason we don't play one day tournaments is because over three days we can continue improving. We are going to simply try to position ourselves to shoot our best."
Leading the group were the two seniors Erik Oja and Benson Liu. Both shot a 69 (-3). The duo are currently tied for eighth place.
"They know how to perform at their last home event," Anderson said. "They were prepared, and I'm not surprised. We would love to have them set the tone for team for the team. They put in the work, and you have to do everything you can do to execute. Hopefully we see more of that from them the next two days."
In the No. 5 spot, Brenden Redfern ended the first round one-under 71 for a 17th-place finish. Behind him, junior Alex McMahon shot a 72 (E) to finish in a tie for 26th. Rounding out Arizona scoring, Kolton Lapa scored a 77 (+5).
"I can't tell u how proud I am of Brenden," Anderson said. "He has been patient all semester. Today's round was indicative of the player he is. He never gives up. Alex has been so rock solid. He's ready to go every week and continues to post number that contribute. Kolton knows how important he is to our team. He wants to bounce back, and he's a great player so I know he'll figure it out."
Representing Arizona as individuals were Christian Colegrove and Dylan Kornberg. The two also posted impressive scores. Colgrove ended the round 74 (+2). Kornberg shot a 76 (+4) on the day.
"The message stays the same leading into tomorrow," Anderson said. "We have to make sure we're ready to go. We know where we want to hit the ball and hole locations. We also have the luxury of being at home. However, our margins are small. We are going to keep fighting to the finish line. Tomorrow is important. We have to continue doing what we do well."
Round two will begin Saturday morning with a set tee time of 8 a.m. with each group beginning with nine minute intervals.
Live stats will be available via golfstatresults.com. For continued coverage of men's golf and N.I.T. updates, follow on Twitter @UAWildcatsGolf and on Facebook.com/ArizonaWildcatsGolf.