Elseth, Bennett in contention

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2002

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. &045; Two Riverland Community College golfers had a strong opening day in the National Junior College Athletic Association National Golf Championship.

Another Albert Lea native did even better.

Mike Elseth, a first-year golfer for Rochester Community and Technical College, shot a 76 in Tuesday’s opening 18 holes at Chautauqua Golf Club, putting him in a two-way tie for eighth place.

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Riverland’s representatives, Justin Bennett and Jeff Clark, were also among the top 25.

Clark, a freshman from Austin, shot a 77, tying him with six others for 10th place.

Bennett, a sophomore from Albert Lea making his second straight appearance in the national tournament, carded a 79. That left him tied for 24th. Bennett finished 22nd among 100 golfers last year. There are 99 entrants this time.

&uot;Justin had a solid round,&uot; said Riverland coach David Lillemon. &uot;It was not a good round for him, but it’s O.K. He’s got the game to move up. He can easily shoot par. This course sets up good for him.&uot;

The highlight for Bennett was an eagle on the par-5 No. 3 hole, which is 466 yards uphill.

The leader after day one was Matt Mooney of Lincoln CC, who shot a 2-under-par 70.

Region XIII team champion Central Lakes had a 313 Tuesday and was in second place. Twelve schools are competing for the team title and 40 colleges are represented. Chautauqua is about 80 miles south of Buffalo.

Lillemon feels the biggest challenge for Bennett and Clark for the remainder of the 72-hole tournament is on the greens.

&uot;The course, which has been there since 1924, is designed by Donald Ross, who is known for designing Pinehurst and Oak Hill, and he’s known for his tough greens,&uot; said Lillemon. &uot;The greens are tough on this course.&uot;