PULLMAN, Wash. — Utah Valley University golfer Mason Casper recorded birdies on three of his last four holes Thursday in the opening round of NCAA Golf Pullman Regional and sits in a tie for 18th after shooting a 4-under par 68.

"He struck the ball very solid today," UVU men's golf coach Chris Curran said. "He gave himself a lot of good looks at birdie."

Casper made par on his first three holes before recording a birdie on the par-3, 190-yard fourth hole. He moved to 2-under with a birdie on the par 5, ninth hole.

His lone bogey on the day came on par-3, 232-yard 13th hole. He brought his score back to 2-under with a birdie on the 15th and then carded back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

"He was one of the later tee times today and guys were taking it low so he knew what he had to do," Curran said.

USC's Sam Smith shot a 10-under par 62 and leads the tournament by one shot over St. Mary's Mac McClung.

The low five teams in each of the six regionals and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals, which will be held May 28-June 2, at The Capital City Club, Crabapple Course in Atlanta, Ga.

Currently, Casper is in third place among those playing as individuals. Sacramento State's Jordan Weir is currently 6-under par, while UC Davis' Tyler Raber is at 5-under par.

Casper tees off in his second round at 11:10 a.m. MT with Princeton's Jarmas and St. Francis' Jimmy Ferguson. Casper's round can be followed at www.golfstat.com.

Cal leads as a team at 23-under par, two shots better than St. Mary's.

The regional is being contested at the Par-72, 7,308 Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University.