GASTONIA, N.C. – Charleston Southern put together solid back-to-back rounds Monday at Gastonia Country Club to earn a eighth-place standing through 36 holes at the Gary Koch Invitational. CSU junior Jacques Wilson (T-17th) and senior Austin James (T-22nd) are both in the top-25 of a field that includes golfers from three top-40 programs.
CSU is just one back of seventh-place Richmond, three out of a fifth-place tie between Lousiana-Monroe and No. 13 Virginia and six behind a third-place tie between Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern. Auburn carded composite rounds of six and eleven-under par and holds the 36-hole lead at -17. North Carolina State fired the round of the day with a -12 opening 18 but was level par in the afternoon to slip back to second place, five strokes off the pace.
Jacksonville State's Jamie Mist is the individual leader at -8. N.C. State's Jacob McBride and Gardner-Webb's Aaron Thomas are one shot back. CSU's Wilson is one of 21 players at even par or better with Tuesday's final round still to come.
Wilson (71-73-144 (E)) started hot with birdies on four of his first seven holes to surge into an early tie for the lead. He slipped up with consecutive double bogeys at nine and ten but rebounded with birdies at the par-five 13th and par-four 16th to play his way to red numbers. Wilson had five bogeys in the afternoon but highlighted his round with a birdie at No. 12 and an eagle three at No. 13.
James also put forth a strong effort for Director of Golf Todd Selders' Bucs. He closed round one with two straight birdies at No. 17 and No. 18 to take momentum into his second round. He continued that forward with birdies at the first and the third before dropping shots with three bogeys and a double. James did have two other birdies, though, to card a second round 73.
Jake Ezell (73-75-148 (+4)) is in the top half of the field in a tie for 37th. The steady redshirt junior also capped his first round with back-to-back birdies. He would eventually get to -1 through 31 holes before a rough closing stretch with two bogeys and a double.
Art Griffin (78-72-150 (+6)) recovered from a tough opening round to shoot even par in the afternoon and move up into a tie for 47th. He rolled in birdies on three of his last four holes of the evening.
David Eller was CSU's other competitor, and tallied rounds of 85 and 81.
CSU's round three tee times begin at 7:50 a.m. on Tuesday. The Bucs will play their final round alongside Richmond and Kentucky.