UW Golfers Weather Brutal Conditions at NCAAs

June 3, 2005

Owings Mills, MD - Playing in a driving rain storm, the Washington men's golf team put together a strong showing on its back nine to make the 15-team cut and enter Saturday's final round of the 108th NCAA Championships tied for fifth. The Huskies stand at 37-over 877 and will attempt to make their second-straight top-10 finish at the NCAAs. Last year's team was sixth, the second-best finish in UW's history.

Washington appeared in jeopardy of even making the 54-hole cut that eliminated half the field after the Huskies played the front nine at 20-over during their third round.

Junior All-American James Lepp, who is tied for eighth at 3-over 213, birdied his first hole but found himself at four over after his front nine. Pac-10 Champion Erik Olson was also at four-over while freshman Joe Panzeri finished his first nine holes at plus-five. Sophomore Alex Prugh stood at seven over and freshman Zach Bixler was UW's non-counter at eight-over.

'We were almost dead at the turn but came back to life on those last few holes,' said Husky coach Matt Thurmond. 'If we would have played the back nine half as bad as we played the first nine holes, we would have been cut for sure.'

Washington's four counting players played the back nine at three-over-par to finish the third round at 23-over total of 303. Prugh managed three birdies and a pair of bogies to improve his overall score to 6-over 76. Lepp and Panzeri also finished with 76s while Olson carded a 75. Bixler finished the day at 81.

The Huskies said the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., which is set up as a par-70, 7,131-yard course for the tournament, was extremely tough in the rainy, windy conditions.

'I've never played a golf course this long in my entire life,' Olson said. 'It was even longer than Washington National in the dead of winter. It played like it was 7,800 yards today. It was tough to make par, let alone a birdie.'

'It was a grind out there,' Prugh said. 'It's so wet, you just try and make as many pars as you can. You feel like you're lucky if you can hit a green. If I had to guess, I'd say it was playing about par 75.'

The average score during the morning round, when the Huskies played, was 76.68.

'It was like playing in mush,' Panzeri said. 'There were par fours that you could not even reach with driver and fairway wood. A couple of times I hit a good driver and solid wood and was still 20 yards short. You just had to be patient because everyone else in your group was doing the same thing. You have to realize that it is not as bad as it seems. Everybody else in the field has to play in the same conditions.'

Sunny conditions are forecast for Saturday's final round when Georgia will attempt a wire-to-wire victory. The Bulldogs shot 17-over 297 Friday but maintain a nine-stroke lead over in-state rival Georgia Tech. Georgia enters the final round at 15-over 855, 22 strokes ahead of the Huskies. Southern California is third at 875 while UNLV stands fourth at 876.

Duke, Arizona State, Kentucky and Augusta State are all tied with Washington at 877. The Huskies entered the tournament ranked 19th in the golf coaches poll and 24th in the Golfweek standings.

In the race for medalist honors, Pepperdine's Michael Putnam holds a one-stroke lead over Georgia Tech's Roberto Castro and Augusta State's Major Manning after three rounds. After posting back-to-back 67s to open the tournament, Putnam shot 3-over 73 Friday for a 54-hole total of 207. Lepp is six strokes behind Putnam.

Lepp found he had more to deal with than the miserable weather conditions. While warming up on the practice range, he found his shots straying to the right.

'It was annoying in the sense that I struggled with that all day,' Lepp said. 'I just didn't feel very good over the ball. Even if there wasn't any rain, I feel I would have shot a few over. I just did not have good stuff out there and I could not make any putts today. I probably had five putts inside of 10 feet for birdie and just made one of them and that was on the first hole.'

Lepp will attempt to become just the third Husky to post a top-10 finish at the NCAAs. Troy Kelley was the runner-up in 1999 and Brock Mackenzie placed fifth in 2003.

Olson is 29th overall at 8-over 218 while Panzeri is 67th at 223. Prugh sits at 105th at 227 while Bixler is 118th at 229.

'I could not be more proud of our guys,' said Thurmond who has directed the Huskies to a pair of 11th places finishes during his first two seasons before last-year's sixth-place showing. 'After yesterday you hoped to be talking about playing for the lead right now, but not every day is going to be a great day for you. We had a chance to go one way or another today and our guys managed to turn it into a pretty good day.'

Washington will be paired with Kentucky and Augusta State during Saturday's final round. The Huskies are scheduled to start their final round at 8 a.m. from the No. 10 tee.

The Golf Channel is televising a daily recap of the championship. Its coverage airs from 12-2 p.m. PT and is replayed at 10 p.m. Live scoring of the event can be found at golfstat.com.

2005 NCAA Divison I Men's Golf Championships
Caves Valley Golf Club
Owings Mills, Md.
Par-70, 7,131 yards
Third Round Results

Team Results 1. Georgia            274-284-297-855 2. Georgia Tech       288-281-295-864 3. USC                290-282-303-875 4. UNLV               284-290-302-876 5. Duke               288-286-303-877 5. Arizona State      291-285-301-877 5. Washington         289-285-303-877 5. Kentucky           291-292-294-877 5. Augusta State      286-289-302-87710. Georgia State      287-287-305-87910. BYU                285-290-304-87912. New Mexico         289-300-291-88012. Tennessee          279-288-313-88014. Oklahoma State     292-289-301-88215. Georgia Southern   286-298-299-88316. Wake Forest        287-293-304-88417. Arizona            282-296-307-88518. Florida            289-291-308-88818. Stanford           296-292-300-88820. Missouri           300-286-304-89020. Coastal Carolina   284-301-305-89022. SMU                287-297-308-89223. San Diego State    290-297-306-89324. Texas              298-297-299-89424. Texas A&M          296-296-302-89424. Arkansas           288-296-310-89427. Purdue             299-299-297-89528. Alabama            291-293-313-89729. Tulsa              290-302-307-89930. UCLA               299-301-303-903Note: Top 15 teams advance to the final round

Individual Leaders 1. Michael Putnam, Pepperdine 67-67-73-207 2. Roberto Castro, Georgia Tech 69-68-71-208 2. Major Manning, Augusta State 65-70-73-208 4. John Holmes, Kentuck 70-72-69-211 4. Aron Price, Georgia Southern 66-73-72-211 6. Taylor Wood, USC 72-68-72-212 6. Joshua Wooding, USC 71-67-73-212 8. James Lepp, Washington 70-67-76-213 8. Oscar Alvarez, BYU 67-71-75-213 8. Shawn Jasper, Missouri 72-66-75-213 8. Ross McGowan, Tennessee 67-71-75-213 8. Brendon Todd, Georgia 68-70-75-21313. Rob Grube, Stanford 71-71-72-21414. Chris Kirk, Georgia 69-71-75-21514. Kevin Kisner, Georgia 65-74-76-21514. Michael Schachner, Duke 70-68-77-215

Washington Scores 8. James Lepp 70-67-76-213 29. Erik Olson 74-69-75-218 67. Joe Panzeri 71-76-76-223105. Alex Prugh 76-75-76-227118. Zach Bixler 74-74-81-229

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