Seth Reeves likes what he sees when he steps onto the Brickyard at Riverside course.
His scorecard in Friday’s first round of the fifth annual Brickyard Collegiate Championship said just how much.
The Georgia Tech sophomore tied the tournament and competitive course record with a 7-under-par 65 to take the individual lead in the 15-team event. Reeves’ effort helped the Yellow Jackets to a team total of 8-under 280 and a two-stroke lead over Florida State entering Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole tournament.
“I think it suits my eye and sets up really well for my game,” Reeves said of the 7,173-yard layout. “It’s open to the point that you can hit a lot of drivers and go low if you get the chance.”
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Only five other players have gone as low as Reeves in the tournament’s previous four years or in other events since former PGA Tour player Mark McCumber completed his redesign in 2005.
The lean left-hander had five birdies and an eagle to equal the rounds of Mississippi’s Billy Brozovich (2010) and Georgia teammates Russell Henley (2009) and Harris English (2007) for the tournament’s best score. Cole Tidwell, chairman of the Brickyard Collegiate Championship committee, and Bill Jones also own 65s in competition at the course.
Reeves’ round on the sunny, breezy day matched his competitive low at Georgia Tech. The resident of Duluth had 65 in the final round of the Carpet Capital Collegiate at The Farm in Rocky Face a month ago in Georgia Tech’s debut event of the season.
“And that was after an 83 in the second round,” he said sheepishly.
There was going to be nothing like that Friday even though Reeves didn’t get off to the best of starts. He missed three of the greens on the first five holes but managed to save par on each one.
“We practice a lot on the short game, so I had confidence I could save par when I needed,” said Reeves, who has a one-stroke lead over Florida State’s Brooks Koepka.
From there, Reeves shaved six shots off par in the next seven holes. He started the run with consecutive birdies at Nos. 6-7 and capped it with an eagle on the 488-yard, par-5 12th where he laced a 5-iron to within 15 feet and made the putt.
“I was patient and had a good perspective,” said Reeves, who got his share of the record with a three-foot birdie putt on the 495-yard, par-5 18th. “I made some good swings and then a few putts coming in. When I start getting low, I want to keep going lower. I feel like did a really good job of that.”
Koepka had four birdies and an eagle to hold second individually. The senior, who has finished tied for fifth and tied for third in his previous two Brickyard appearances, moved into contention again by finishing with three straight birdies.
“I stayed patient,” said Koepka, who had a lone birdie and 10 pars before scoring the eagle at the 12th. “I hit good shots and good putts, but nothing fell. I just waited my turn and something (birdies) finally came.
“I look forward to this tournament. I like the course. It challenges me and makes me think. Maybe I can leave with a win this time.”
Air Force sophomore Kyle Westmoreland is third with 67, his career-best round for the Falcons. He started on the back nine and closed a roller-coaster day with an eagle on the 477-yard, par-5 ninth after bogeys at Nos. 7-8.
“I’ve been playing well,” said the sophomore, one of 16 players in the 84-man field to break par. “The game feels really good. It was nice to have that finish after the previous two holes so I could have a good showing. That helps the confidence.”
Mississippi’s Joe David and Gonzaga’s Travis Johnsen were tied for fourth at 68. David got his share of fourth with a birdie on the 18th while Johnsen, who started on the back nine, cut five shots off par in his final six holes to erase a rocky start.
James White is among those in red numbers to back Reeves and help the Yellow Jackets take the lead. The senior had 71 while Anders Albertson and William Miller matched par. Richy Werenski, who had 73, was the Jackets’ fifth man. Georgia Tech has a second, a third and a fourth among its four previous Brickyard appearances.
“All our guys like to play here,” Reeves said. “Maybe this time.”
Koepka helped Florida State, which was third in the tournament last year, to a two-stroke advantage on North Florida. Two-time defending national champion Augusta State was fourth at 292, three shots up on defending Brickyard champ Georgia. Host Mercer was 10th at 299.
The tournament continued Saturday with the first groups leaving the No. 1 and No. 10 tees at 8:30 a.m. There is no charge for admission.