TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Tallahassee native and junior golfer Bennett Baker gave Florida State Men’s Golf a first-round lift on Friday, shooting a 2-under 68 at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational held at Olympia Fields Country Club.
The Seminoles are just two shots out of the lead at 2-over (282) and enter the second round in fifth place. Alabama, Oklahoma State and Baylor are in a three-way tie for first place at even par, followed by Texas A&M (+1) and FSU in the Top five.
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Baker, who attended Chiles High School, strung together four birdies and was consistent through all 18 holes. On a championship-level course, Baker recorded just two bogeys and is tied for sixth among the 78 participants.
“Bennett has a great temperament for hard golf courses,” FSU head coach Trey Jones said. “He chooses his spots well and has very good composure.”
Baker is the lone returning member who was part of the FSU Golf starting five two years ago that won the Fighting Illini Invitational, which routinely features some of the best collegiate programs in the country. Baker’s debut came at Olympia Fields that year, where he wound up shooting a first-round 66 and tying for ninth overall.
Freshmen John Pak and redshirt sophomore Jonathan Keppler continued their torrid starts to the season. Both student-athletes shot even-par 70s, joining Baker as three of just 23 golfers to shoot even or better in the first round. Pak has been at even par or better in all four of his collegiate rounds played after finishing second at last week’s Doc Gimmler Invitational.
“John Pak played a beautiful round of golf,” Jones added. “He made 13 easy pars, one tough par, two bogies and two birdies. Look for him to continue to climb up the leaderboard this week.”
Keppler started his round with his second career eagle on the opening hole, a par-5, 626-yard monster. He added three more birdies, including two on the back nine, to tie for 14th overall.
“Jonathan looks like a different player than when he came here a year ago,” Jones said of Keppler. “This course doesn’t let up and if you are not confident it will expose you. We are only four rounds into the season but I like where his game is going.”
Redshirt senior Harry Ellis made his season debut, finishing with a 4-over 74. Sophomore Greyson Porter is 11-over.
FSU tees off at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday morning to start the second round. Porter is first, followed by Ellis (9:09), Keppler (9:18), Pak (9:27) and Baker (9:36).