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Freshmen Set the Pace for Florida Southern on Day One of Matlock Classic and Coutsolioutsos Has Share of the Lead

Max Coutsolioutsos
Max Coutsolioutsos

LAKELAND, FLA. – Florida Southern ended day one of the Matlock Collegiate Classic in fifth place with a four-over-par 580, but Monday's biggest story may have been the play of the Moccasins' Max Coutsolioutsos. Playing his best golf of the season, the freshman from Bradenton, Florida shot a first-round 66 and followed that with a 70 in the afternoon to claim a share of the individual lead with one round remaining.

With his eight-under-par 136, Coutsolioutsos is tied with Lynn sophomore Jorge Villar, who was the only golfer Monday to shoot in the 60s in both rounds, carding a 69 and a 67. They lead sophomore Jordan Doull of Columbus State by three strokes after Doull had rounds of 69 and 70 for a five-under-par 139. Ten golfers were under par at the end of the day after 26 were at that level following last year's first two rounds.

Even so, Coutsolioutsos and Villar were only one stroke off the score from last year's second round co-leaders, John Coultas and John VanDerLaan. It's now the third time in the last four years the Matlock has had a tie for the individual lead going into the final round.

Another freshman making his mark in this year's Matlock is Lynn's Agustin Errazuriz, who is making his playing in his first college tournament and was one of the 10 golfers under par Monday. Errazuriz turned in scores of 69 and 72 and is tied for sixth, and when combined with Villar, it's a big reason why 2nd-ranked Lynn is 10 shots ahead of the field in the team standings. The Knights were four-under in round one and five-under in round two, putting them at -9 for the tournament. Last year they were at -8 after two rounds, and it was only good for fifth place with four teams at -11 or better.

No. 5 West Florida and top-ranked Barry are tied for second at +1 after swapping scores of 289 and 288 over the first two rounds. Columbus State is in fourth place at +3, one shot ahead of the fifth-place and 6th-ranked Moccasins who were previously tied for fourth with the Cougars and West Florida Argonauts halfway through the day. Now all four of those teams are within three shots of each other, with Cal State-Monterey Bay and Limestone just four shots behind that group.

Considering the depth of the field and the number of established All-Americans and veteran national champion participants on the course, the play of Coutsolioutsos may have caught some off-guard. But after a strong finish to the fall at the Otter Invitational in California, Coutsolioutsos owned Monday's first round of the spring with his season-best six-under-par 66. It would be interesting to see how many other freshmen in the 38-year history of the Matlock have had such a round in their first appearance, but surely not many.

Overall, it's the 18th time a golfer has shot a 66 or better in an opening round of the Matlock, and Coutsolioutsos is only the second freshman to shoot that score in any round of the Matlock in the last 20 years. Barry's Adam Svensson did that in the final round of the 2013 tournament on his way to a fourth-place finish that year before winning the Matlock in 2014 and '15.

Starting on the par-5 No. 2, Coutsolioutsos birdied his first hole Monday before his only bogey of the opening round came on the par-3 No. 4. A birdie on 6 dropped him back to -1, and he remained under par the rest of the day. He finished round one with five birdies on his final eight holes, which was enough to give him a two-stroke lead over Barry's Jorge Garcia halfway through the day. Garcia played a bogey-free opening round and was three-under after five before turning in a 68 that had him alone in second.

Lynn had two of the six golfers who shot in the 60s for round one, and with Villar and Errazuriz each carding a 69, it put the Knights at -4 as a team when counting a pair of 73s. That was one shot better than 13th-ranked Limestone, which had no one in the 60s, but counted a 70, two 71s, and a 73. The Saints, however, couldn't match that pace in round two when their best score was a 74 and they dropped down into a tie for sixth.

Florida Southern was in a three-way tie for fourth with a 289 (+1), led by its two freshmen, Coutsolioutsos and Seth Wright. After playing in just one tournament during the fall, Wright had the Moccasins' second lowest score in round one with a 72. Wright had three bogeys in the round, but followed two of them with an immediate birdie on the next hole, including one that sent him into round two at even par.

Christian Anderson and Chase Ibbotson were the Moccasins' other two counters in round one with a 75 and 76 respectively. Michael VanDerLaan shot a 78 as the Mocs' fifth golfer. Ibbotson had one of the tournament's five eagles Monday when he connected on the par-4 No. 16 and he was -2 for the last five holes of round one.

The Moccasins got off to an impressive start in round two when Coutsolioutsos and Ibbotson each birdied their first hole, and VanDerLaan birdied two of his first five. With Wright birdying his fourth hole of the round, the Mocs were gaining ground on Lynn and sitting in second place overall. The Knights, however, closed with a flourish as Tyrone Clarke converted a late eagle and Carlos Bustos had birdies on his final two holes. That meant all four Lynn counters in the second round shot a 72 or better.

West Florida was able to move back ahead of Florida Southern after an incredible run by Juan Ignacio de Giacomi, the Argonauts' fifth golfer, who ended his day with five birdies on the final six holes. With three different Barry golfers picking up a birdie over their final two holes, the Buccaneers were able to tie the Argos for second, while birdies by Doull on his final two holes for Columbus State allowed the Cougars to barely slip ahead of the Moccasins into fourth.

Coutsolioutsos again led the Moccasins in round two with his 70, while Ibbotson and Anderson each had a 73. Anderson started the second round with a par and a bogey before parring 16 consecutive holes after that. He had 32 holes of par or better on the day, only one less than Coutsolioutsos. That put Anderson in a tie for 27th place with Wright, who had a non-counting 76 in round two for a 148 overall.

Ibbotson is tied for 32nd with a 149, and VanDerLaan is 53rd with a 153 after shooting a 75 in round two.

The final round begins with a shotgun start at Lone Palm Golf Club on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.