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GSW in hunt at region golf tournament

GSW coach Andrew Danna.

GSW coach Andrew Danna.

CONOVER, N.C. — Momentum, it’s priceless.

And that’s what the golfers at Georgia Southwestern had as they walked off the course after the first day of the NCAA Division II Regional Golf Tournament on Monday at the Rock Barn Golf and Spa in North Carolina.

Not only did the Hurricanes get a big lift from J.P. Griffin, who leads the field with a four-under 68, but they ended their day with a bang when former Lee County golf star Nate Graham made the shot of the day.

The Hurricanes, playing in their first NCAA postseason, are trying to get to next week’s national tournament in Kentucky and are in the hunt after the first day of the three-day regional.

They shot a 298 and are tied for 13th in the 20-team field, but they’re just seven strokes out of fifth place. The top five teams qualify for the nationals.

“Seven strokes isn’t a lot to make up in team golf,’’ said GSW golf coach Andrew Danna, whose team got a jolt of momentum on the par 5 18th hole on Monday.

That’s where Gahman made a shot for the ages, digging out of a bunker to end his day with a chip-in that hit the green and rolled more than 50 feet before dropping in the hole for an eagle.

“It was an incredible shot,’’ Danna said. “That shot saved two strokes, and in the end that could be pivotal. That was a great shot.

“It gave us momentum. It was a bright spot at the end of the day that hopefully will carry us over. Every shot counts, and that was a big one.’’

Griffin led the way for the Hurricanes with a four-under 68, which leads the field by two strokes.

Craig Gibson shot a 76. Christopher Hall and Gahman both shot 77.

Danna is looking for a better round today from the Hurricanes, who are ranked No. 18 in the nation with hopes of winning a national title.

“J.P. had a great first round,’’ he said. “We (as a team) started out playing good and then we ran into a couple of holes that gave us trouble. It was a good first round. We did some good things, and we did some bad things.’’