PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – Despite a lengthy weather delay midway through the round, fifth-year senior Pono Yanagi fired a six-under 66 to lead Washington State to an opening-round 272, 16-under par, as the Cougars began their 2023-24 season at the 2023 Golfweek Fall Challenge Sunday. The event is being played at the par 72, 7005-yard True Blue Golf Club. The Cougars sit one stroke off leader Loyola Marymount and two ahead of Arkansas State.
Yanagi was dialed in from the start as he finished off a bogey-free round by making six birdies, taking full advantage of the par-4 holes where he had a stroke average of 3.63, best in the field Sunday. The 66 was just one stoke off his career-best round of 65, shot at the 2021 Visit Stockton Invitational. Yanagi is one stroke off the individual lead held by Loyola Marymount’s Riley Lewis.
Cougar teammates Preston Bebich and Sam Renner sit two strokes behind Yanagi and three off the lead as they each fired a 4-under, 68, finishing tied for sixth after the first day. Bebich had six birdies and two bogeys on his round while Renner posted eight birdies on the day, tied for second-most in the field, taking advantage of the par 3 (2.60 scoring average) and par 5 (4.20) holes, both tied for top marks on the day.
Senior Nate Plaster also finished under par, matching his career-best at 2-under par (70) as he posted two birdies and an eagle to get to 4-under before bogeying two of his last three holes to finish tied for 22nd overall. Redshirt-freshman Ben Borgida was the fifth Cougar playing and completed his first 18 holes at 3-over, 75, tied for 68th overall.
As a team, the Cougars took advantage of the par-5 holes, finishing at 10-under with a stroke average of 4.60. WSU’s 16-under opening round tied for the fifth-mark single-round score to par in program history.
Play resumes Monday morning for the second of three rounds at the Golfweek Fall Challenge. WSU is scheduled to tee off at 6:15 a.m. PT.