BURLINGTON – There were a few more people at the Phoenix Invitational men’s golf tournament on Monday than usual.
Former NBA star JR Smith (FR, Millstone Township, N.J.) made his collegiate debut for the men’s golf team on Monday at the par-71, 6,867-yard Alamance Country Club golf course.
At one point in the day, Smith had what one would consider a golf gallery following throughout the course, which is not a common sight at a collegiate golf tournament. He also had a handful of photographers and video cameras capturing his every shot.
Then there was the golf. Smith’s first-round card included two birdies and six pars. His second-round card had one birdie and 10 pars. Smith shot a first-round 12-over 83 before shooting a second-round 7-over 78 to finish the day at 19-over 161.
“He found out today that collegiate golf is not easy,” said N.C. A&T coach Richard Watkins. “I thought he did well. We are pleased, but we are not pleased to the point of satisfaction. But I thought he had a good showing today.”
Smith’s first collegiate birdie occurred on the par-4, 460-yard No. 7. He then birdied the par-4, 382-yard ninth. His lone second-round birdie came on the 564-yard, par-5 sixth.
As a team, the Aggies are in 11th place after the first day with an 18-over 586. Elon, the tournament host, is in first place with a 32-under 536. Appalachian State follows them, Elon’s B Team (9-under, 559), Radford and Longwood (3-under, 565) round out the top-5. App State and Radford did not complete their respective second rounds.
Diego Gonzalez (SR, Caracas, Venezuela) stood as the Aggies top golfer on Monday. He had a sensational Day 1, shooting a 3-under 139 over two rounds to finish tied for 17th. He posted 10 birdies over two rounds on Monday. Gonzalez was at plus-1 over the first nine holes before catching fire.
Gonzalez fired off four birdies and carded only one bogey on the second nine. He moved to even par on the par-4, 398-yard 10th with a birdie. He then moved into the red with a birdie on 514-yard, par-5 No. 12. His bogey on 13 moved him back to even par before back-to-back birdies on 16 (par-3, 189 yards) and 17 (par-5, 506 yards) got him to 2-under for the round.
At one point in the second round, Gonzalez found himself as low as 5-under for the tournament. When he birdied the par-5, 514-yard 12th, he had his low score of the day. Back-to-Back bogeys on 15 and 16 slid him back to 3-under before his final birdie of the day on 17. He closed the second with a bogey on 18.
Xavier Williams (SR, Boiling Springs, N.C.) shot 4-over 146 on the day. He is tied for 51st. Diego Sanchez (SR, San Luis Potosi City, Mexico) shot a 5-over 147 to finish tied for 56th. Martin Gutierrez (SO, Madrid, Spain) posted a 12-over 154 and Anthony Ford (SO, Atlanta, Ga.) shot a 17-over 159.
Elon’s Pedro Rabadan leads the tournament at 11-under 131. Round 3 of the Phoenix Invitational starts at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday.