Feb. 17, 2014
University of Cincinnati junior Jared Howard (Dublin, Ohio/Jerome) fired a 3-under par 72-69=142 on Monday to climb into first place at the Rice Intercollegiate at Westwood Country Club (par 72; 7,184) in Houston, Texas.
Playing in its first tournament of the spring season, UC shot 8-over 296 in the morning’s first round but rebounded in the afternoon to post a 3-under 285 to finish the day at 5-over 574. The Bearcats are tied with UTSA (290-291=581) for first place in the 15-team field heading into Tuesday’s final round.
“Overall, I am very pleased with today's performance,” UC head coach Doug Martin said. “I felt we were a little too jacked up to play. Emotionally, it affected us early. As we settled into the rounds I thought we looked very sharp for having not competed since mid October.”
Howard’s 3-under 69 in the second round was the best score of any player in the 84-player field during the afternoon. He was 4-under par through 10 holes with birdies on holes 1, 3, 5 and 10. He owns a one stroke lead over Old Dominion’s Jamison Randall (72-70=142).
Two other Bearcats are listed in the Top 20. Junior John Michael O’Toole (Pinson, Ala./Central Alabama CC) registered his best back-to-back rounds of play since joining the Bearcats this season, shooting an even par 72-72-=144 to rank fifth after two rounds. Sophomore Emerson Newsome (Dacula, Ga./Mill Creek) is 16th at 4-over 73-75=148.
“Jared Howard played great today,” Martin said. “He was very solid in all aspects of his game. It was also great to see John Michael play well. He is finally starting to let himself compete.”
Freshman Jared O’Kelley (Canton, Ga./Creekview) enters Tuesday in 26th place at 7-over 79-72=151. Junior Baxter Reeves (Montgomery, Ala./Central Alabama CC) is 45th at 10-over 82-72=154. Sophomore Blake Hamilton (Union, Ky./Ryle) played as an individual and posted an 80-75=155.
“As always you love playing in the last group with a chance to win tournaments,” Martin said. “Tuesday will be our fourth chance to do that this year. I have stressed to this team all year, ‘Only worry about the things you control, and that is your own game.’ I expect us to play well tomorrow and continue our learning process from each experience.”
The Bearcats start final-round action at 9 a.m. ET on the first hole. Follow live scoring at BirdieFire.com.
UC recorded a school-record five Top 5 finishes in as many tournaments in the fall, including a first-place finish at the Cleveland State Invitational on Oct. 1.