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    22nd-Ranked 'Cats in 14th-Place at Mercedes-Benz Championships

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Tom Johnson fired NU's top round on Sunday. He is 2-over and in 12th place.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Tom Johnson fired NU's top round on Sunday. He is 2-over and in 12th place.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Feb. 8, 2004

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Playing in a tournament that features 10 of the nation's top-25 programs, the 22nd-ranked Wildcats are sitting in a 14th-place tie after the first 18 holes at the Mercedes-Benz Championships, which are being played at Sawgrass Country Club (par 72, 6,955 yards). This is Northwestern's first tournament action of the spring.

    The conditions were less than ideal, especially for the Sunshine State. Temperatures never climbed out of the 50s and winds were clocked at 20 miles per hour.

    Senior Tom Johnson (Sacramento, Calif./Del Campo) finished Sunday's first round with a 2-over 74, good enough for a 12th-place tie with three other golfers. He is three strokes off the lead, which is shared by a trio of players -- Texas' Jason Hartwick and South Carolina's Eirek Johansen and Jake Thompson. Led by Johansen and Thompson, the Gamecocks own an 11-stroke team lead over Florida.

    As a team, the Wildcats finished 31-over, but are one of 10 teams that are separated by less than 10 strokes. Northwestern, the only northern institution in the prestigious 18-team field, is just eight strokes back of seventh-place Texas.

    Junior Dillon Dougherty (Woodland, Calif./Woodland) is tied for 48th place after finishing 8-over. Senior Casey Strunk (Phoenix, Ariz./Thunderbird) is 10-over, and tied for 59th place. Senior T.C. Ford (Covington, La./Mandeville) and sophomore Bryson Young (Reno, Nev./Galena) are 11-over and tied for 64th place.

    Second-round action continues Monday morning.

    Live Stats and latest results are available for the tournament by linking to Mercedes-Benz Championships. Additional information on the tournament can be found at UNF Golf.