Francis Marion takes lead

From staff reports

Defending NCAA Division II national champion Francis Marion University shot rounds of 305 and 298 Tuesday to take the lead after the first day of the 2004 Peach Belt Conference Championship held at Lake Spivey Golf Club in Jonesboro.

The ninth-ranked Patriots shot a 10-over par 298, the low round of the day in the eight-team field, to give them a seven-stroke advantage over 16th-ranked Georgia College & State University and fifth-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University. GC&SU and AASU are tied for second after two-round totals of 610. AASU came back to fire a 303 after an opening round 307, while GC&SU carded two rounds of 305.

Armstrong Atlantic junior Chris Epperson leads individually; firing a two-under par 142 on the par-72, 6,815-yard course and his 70 in the second round was the best effort of the day. GC&SU junior Carter Collins is one-stroke off the lead after rounds of 72 and 71 for a 1-under par 143. Francis Marion senior Fredrik Ohlsson sits in third place at three-over par 147 after rounds of 74 and 73.

Behind the top three schools, defending PBC champion and sixth-ranked University of South Carolina Aiken (308-304) and Kennesaw State University (311-307) are tied for fourth and nine shots off the lead with two round totals of 612. The Owls second round score of 299 was the second lowest team round of the day.

The University of North Carolina Pembroke is in sixth place with rounds of 311 and 307, followed by 23rd-ranked Columbus State University in seventh with rounds of 312 and 313. Host Clayton College & State University is in eighth after rounds of 322 and 320.

Freshman Matt Beall led Clayton State and is tied for 10th after rounds of 78 and 75. Senior Jess Shirley shot rounds of 82 and 78 and is tied in 32nd, followed by sophomore Jimmy Beebe in 34th after rounds of 80 and 84.

Laker sophomore Jason Armour is tied for 35th after rounds of 82 and 83, followed by sophomore Steven Sanderstied for 37th after rounds of 82 and 86.

The final 18 holes of the 54-hole tournament will begin today at 7:45 a.m. at Lake Spivey. USC Aiken won the PBC Championship last year, followed by GC&SU and Columbus State.