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'Very humbling': Former NBA player J.R. Smith makes college golf debut

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J.R. Smith’s first two rounds as a college golfer are in the books.

The former NBA player turned North Carolina A&T freshman shot 19 over during Monday’s 36-hole day at the Elon Phoenix Invitational at Alamance Country Club in Burlington, North Carolina. Smith opened in 12-over 83 before carding a second-round 78, and he sits 81st out of 84 players on the leaderboard, 30 shots back of individual leader – and one of Smith's playing competitor – Pedro Rabadan of Elon.

"I was nervous, I was," Smith told The Associated Press. "I didn't really know what to expect."

Smith began his college tournament debut, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of Smith winning an NBA title as a member of the Lakers, with par on the par-4 fifth hole and made two birdies in the next four holes, including a tap-in after sticking his approach close at the par-4 ninth. However, he also doubled-bogeyed Nos. 6 and 8 before making two more doubles and six bogeys over the course of the round.

His second round was a little cleaner. He notched only a single birdie, at the par-5 sixth, but he also made just one double.

"More than anything, it's just being able to go out there and compete as one of the guys, just another name, and get my [butt] kicked," Smith said. "It was actually a very humbling feeling. Again, I'm ready to go to that range to work on it. I had fun, but I don't like losing."

Playing in the five spot in the Aggies’ lineup, Smith did not count toward the team score in either round. North Carolina A&T shot 18 over as a team and is 11th of 13 teams, 50 shots behind leader and host Elon, entering Tuesday’s final round.

"I was pretty pleased with him," Aggies head coach Richard Watkins said. "He made some mistakes, did some things you will do if you're not used to competing. Just going out and playing recreational golf with your buddies is a whole lot different than competition. That first 18 was just to get his feet wet. Then he buckled down, and I was really pleased with what he did that second 18, because education doesn't come cheap.

"And I think he learned some lessons out there today."

– Information from The Associated Press was used in this report