MARTIN, Tenn. – Ben Reeves celebrated his birthday Sunday afternoon at the Dancing Rabbit Golf Course in Philadelphia, Miss., with his best collegiate outing to date. Reeves, from Knoxville, fired a 4-under par 68 to lead The University of Tennessee at Martin golf team to a first-round 284 in the Frito Lay/Taco Bell Intercollegiate hosted by Jackson State.
UT Martin enters the second and final round with a 19 stroke lead over runner-up New Orleans. Farleigh-Dickinson is 20 strokes back and in third place.
Reeves birdied five of the last seven holes he played.
“The kids worked hard in the preseason and it came together today,” UT Martin head golf coach Jerry Carpenter said.
The coach asked two things of his team Saturday night. “I asked them to play all the Par 5 holes under par and all the Par 3 holes even par. The Skyhawk golfers listened. The birdied six Par 5 holes and they were under par on three Par 3 holes.
Clay Harbin, who is competing for the Skyhawks as an individual in the tournament, shot a first-round 73. The Skyhawk team includes Reeves’ 68, sophomore and defending tournament champion Brendon Caballero’s 71, Graham Sleigh’s 71, Tyler Shellnut’s 74 and freshman Tyler Guy’s 85.
“In the past we would bogey the holes as we were coming in after the first round. Not today,” Carpenter said. “We helped ourselves. We are striking the ball better. We need to keep going now.
“We need to come and back up what we started,” Carpenter said.