NCAA Division I Men’s Golf : USC’s Pemberton Shoots 69 to Tie for First-Round Lead

Times Staff Writer

USC Coach Randy Lein talked at length before the start of National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division I golf championships about how the Trojans could benefit from a home-course advantage at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village.

USC freshman Bryan Pemberton apparently was listening.

Pemberton shot a two-under-par 69 Wednesday in the first round of the 4-day, 72-hole tournament, placing him in a four-way tie for first with O.D. Vincent of Washington, Jeff Hull of South Carolina and Ted Tryba of Ohio State.

“I’ve played at this course at least 25 times,” said Pemberton, who made six birdies. “I could tell I had an advantage over the guys I was playing with. I know the greens a lot better.”


Pemberton’s effort helped USC to a seven-over-par 291, which put the Trojans in third place, behind tournament leader Florida (289) and Washington (290). Oklahoma is fourth (293) and Georgia is fifth (295).

“I’m happy with our effort considering we played in the afternoon and this course is probably two shots tougher per player at that time,” Lein said.

Oklahoma State, the defending national champion, shot 296 to put the Cowboys in a seventh-place tie with Ohio State. Oklahoma State’s Brian Watts, the defending individual champion, shot 76.

“We didn’t play very well,” said Oklahoma State Coach Mike Holder, whose teams have won five national titles in the last 12 years. “It’s a tough course. You need to keep it in the fairway. And if you miss the fairway, you need to make it up on the greens. We didn’t do that.”

Neither did Arizona State (301) or Arizona (304), which are in 15th and 21st, respectively.

Pemberton, who came to USC from Foothill High School in Pleasanton, Calif., had a 68 in the practice round last Thursday at North Ranch.

“A lot of the holes play easier when it’s downwind on the front side like it was today,” Pemberton said. “The key on the par 5s is to be in the fairway so you can go for the greens in two. I hit a lot of greens.”

The Trojans have never won a golf title. Lein hopes that Pemberton will continue his pace, which was all the more impressive because he did it in the afternoon wave that teed off after 12:30 p.m.

USC’s Steve Sear also had a good round, shooting 71.

After today’s second round, the 32-team field will be cut to 20 teams plus ties, and the individual field will be cut to 20 plus ties.