NINETY SIX, S.C. - Charleston Southern senior Jacques Wilson holds a three-stroke lead at the Big South Conference Championship following a career-best five-under par 67 in Friday's opening round at The Patriot at Grand Harbor. CSU led for much of the day and sits in a tie for second place with Campbell, two strokes behind Gardner-Webb, entering Saturday's second round.
Wilson did not record a single bogey, notching 13 pars and five birdies while playing near-flawless golf. Campbell's Jesper Svensson, who set the tournament record last year on his way to medalist honors, carded a two-under 70, birdieing three of his final six holes to close the gap on Wilson. Gardner-Webb's Aaron Thomas, at -1, is the only other competitor in red numbers in the 45-player field.
Paced by Wilson's three-under 33, CSU held the lead at the turn and was atop the leaderboard for much of the day before struggling late in the round. Senior Art Griffin (T-10th) surged to -1 and sole possession of second place with three birdies in a six-hole span on the back side before double bogeying No. 16 and bogeying the 17th to finish with a 74.
Wilson, who finished sixth in last year's event, was undoubtedly the story of the day for the Bucs.
"I just managed the golf course really well," Wilson said. "I hit 16 of 18 greens and really just did everything well. Obviously, there's a lot of golf left so I've just gotta take it one shot at a time."
Wilson's stellar showing came despite consistent winds that affected much of the round before calming down late in the day.
The nine-team field is tightly bunched, with CSU, Campbell, High Point, Longwood and Liberty all within eight strokes of the Runnin' Bulldogs.
CSU will start its second round off No. 1 Saturday between 9:40 and 10:20 a.m. The Bucs will play alongside Gardner-Webb and Campbell.