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Golf: Back-nine surge has UNT in contention

PULLMAN, Wash -- The opening day of the NCAA Pullman (Wash.) Regional saw lots of red figures, and North Texas took advantage of the low scores to fire a season-low 11-under 277.

A late round surge fueled by senior Marco Scarola, who had a career afternoon as he posted a career-best 6-under 66, Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz moved the 37-ranked Mean Green into a tie for eighth place with No. 25 Virginia Tech.

The top-five teams from each regional advance to the NCAA championship tournament. The Mean Green is three strokes behind Pacific, which currently holds the last of the five spots. No. 12 TCU and Memphis are one shot ahead of UNT in a tie for sixth place. No. 1 ranked California is the first-round leader after posting a 23-under par.

Scarola’s round got off to a sluggish start as he was 1-over making the turn after nine holes. A birdie on the 11th got him to even par, and then on the 14th hole he turned in perhaps the best five-hole stretch of his career. Scarola notched three straight birdies, an eagle on the 17th hole and closed with another birdie on the 18th to shoot a 29 on the back nine and a 66 for the round. He is tied for eighth place after 18 holes.

Cazaubon was steady on both the front and back nine holes, notching three birdies on both and only one bogey to card a 4-under par 68. He is tied for 18th place. Ortiz followed the same script as Scarola and closed his round out strong.

Through 14 holes Ortiz was 2-over par, but bounced back with birdies on Nos. 15, 17 and 18 to put up red figures at 1-under par 71.

Curtis Donahoe shot an even-par round of 72, and, like most of the field, took advantage of the back nine holes. He notched his three birdies on the day on the back nine and is tied for 49th place after the first round.

Jason Roets had the one tough afternoon for the Mean Green as he shot an 8-over par 80 and couldn’t bounce back from a 7-over start through the first nine holes.