April 11, 2008
University of New Mexico sophomore Kyle Nielsen fired a career-best 5-under 66 to grab a share of the first-round lead at the 36th Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational being played at the Karsten Golf Course (par-71, 7,057 yards) in Tempe, Ariz.
Nielsen is tied with Arizona State's Braxton Marquez heading into Saturday's second round.
Nielsen, who had yet to break par in 12 varsity rounds this season, came out on fire with five birdies on the front nine to go out in 32. He birdied No. 11 to get to 6-under before taking a bogey on the par-4 17th. His previous low round as a Lobo was 69 at the 2007 Mountain West Conference Championships.
In the team standings, the Lobos are tied for 8th place with UC Irvine and Pacific with a score of 292. Host Arizona State and the ASU "B" team share the lead at 279.
UNM was hanging around the top five in the standings before dropping five shots on the final two holes.
Arizona State has won five of the past nine (1999-2001, 2003-2004) Thunderbird Invitational Tournaments and has won the tournament 12 of the past 19 years.
Last year, Oregon won the tournament with a 20-under 844 while former Lobo Charlie Beljan took medalist honors with a 15-under 201.
Second-round action begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. MDT. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com.