Kaiser shoots even par as Bulldogs play better than field

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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No. 9 Mississippi Gulf Coast’s seven golfers completed their first rounds in the Meridian Fall Invitational on Monday thinking they’d had a good 18 holes.

Turns out it was significantly better than that. All seven golfers were in the top 11 of the 68-player field, and the Bulldogs were 26 shots better than their nearest competition at the halfway mark.

“I’m really proud of how some of them grinded out their finishes,” Gulf Coast coach Brad Thornton said. “We had a few small things to clean up, but for the most part, I was very pleased. Then you look at the leaderboard afterward, and you get really pleased. You realize that maybe it was a better day than you thought after all.”

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Gulf Coast shot 3-over 291, well ahead of second-place Pearl River. Itawamba was another six shots back, and No. 7 Meridian, the hosts, were 36 shots back in seventh place.

Alessio Graziani (So., Johannesburg, South Africa/Beaulieu College) shot 2-under to lead the field. Teammates Chase Kaiser (So., Natchez/Cathedral) and Kyle Davidson (Fr., Kyalami, South Africa/St. Peter’s College) are tied for second at even-par. Davidson is playing as an individual.

“Alessio just got hot,” Thornton said. “He started hitting the ball a little better and putts started to fall. He was able to take advantage of a lot of good ball-striking and putting today. I’m really glad to see him get back on track.”

Will Burnham (Fr., Jackson/Jackson Prep) is fifth at 2-over, and Andrew Zielinski (Fr., Ocean Springs/Ocean Springs) is another shot back tied for sixth. Jackson Wise (Fr., Pontotoc/North Pontotoc) is in ninth after a 77, with Kemit Spears (So., Gulfport/Homeschool), playing as an individual, tied for 10th at 78.

“I think that just shows the strength of our team,” Thornton said. “We talk about our depth all the time, pretty much every time we talk about the team, we talk about how deep it is. That showed today.”

The tournament concludes Tuesday with the final 18 holes. It’s the last MACCC event of the fall. Gulf Coast will hosts its Fall Invitational, a non-conference event, on Oct. 24-25 at Windance Golf Club.