Trojans Tied For Second, 3 Strokes Out, After NCAA Championships 3rd Round

May 30, 2008

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Freshman Tim Sluiter turned in another strong effort while fellow frosh Matthew Giles carded his first par effort this week as the youngest pair on a young team helped keep USC just three strokes out of first after the third round of the 2008 NCAA Men's Golf Championships on the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind., on Friday (May 30).

On a day when the winds picked up and play was interrupted twice by lightning - the second time for good as play was suspended before half the field could finish -- the No. 2 Trojans posted a combined 12-over 300 for a 54-hole 27-over 891 (297-294-300). That total trails first-place UCLA by three strokes while Clemson joins USC in a tie for second behind the Bruins. Stanford is fourth (893), Oklahoma State is fifth (895), Florida is sixth (899), Kent State is seventh (900) and Georgia is eighth (901).

USC, which has never finished higher than third at the NCAA Championships and whose most recent NCAA top 10 finish was sixth in 2005, would have been scheduled to play with UCLA and Clemson in a threesome of the top three teams, beginning at 9:21 a.m. EDT. But with the suspension of the third round, that schedule might be altered. The Trojans were last in the final pairing in 2005, but USC began that day 20 strokes off the lead. (The NCAA will announce an updated final-day schedule later today).

The Trojans began Friday's action two shots back of the Tigers and one behind the Bruins. A good overall start that vaulted USC into the lead gave way to some struggles on the back 9 as the weather worsened.

The Trojans' productive start and rough finish was epitomized by their first and last three holes. USC was a combined 5-under on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd holes, but was 11-over on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

'For all that's gone on, we're still in really good position to win,' said second-year USC Head Coach Chris Zambri, who has guided the Trojans to four wins this year, three in the past five events. 'We've got to be grateful for that. It's supposed to be a challenging day weather-wise tomorrow. Hopefully everyone can stay in the game and give us a good shot at winning it.

'I'm a little surprised that we are still as close as we are, seeing how we've struggled. But that is also a testament to how tough the course is. The guys that are playing well have picked up the guys that have struggled and hopefully we are all on our A-game tomorrow.'

Sluiter began the day in sixth and moved up to fifth at par 216 (70-73-73) after a 1-over third round. As he did on day one, Sluiter opened with birdies on the 1st and 3rd holes, but bogeys on 5, 6, and 8 dropped him to 1-over on the front 9. He managed to come home at even with two birdies and two bogeys. He is six strokes behind leader Kevin Chappell of UCLA. Sluiter is shooting for his fourth top 10 mark this season.

'I am happy we are still in it,' said Sluiter, one of only five players at even or better out of 156. 'The other guys haven't played their best yet, but will probably get it out tomorrow. If that happens, we'll be doing fine.

'The conditions are very tough. I thought I played really well today and shot 1-over. Being a few stokes back on this course isn't much of a deficit. You can get it back quickly. It just goes so fast out here, the rough is thick and you can make a 6 or 7 in a couple of minutes. I think we just need to go out there tomorrow and not mistakes and just play our game.'

Giles ascended up the leader board faster than any Trojan today, climbing to a tie for 24th at 8-over 224 (78-74-72) with an even round. Giles went out at par with birdies on 2 and 7 and bogeys and 6 and 9. Birdies on the 10th and 13th holes dropped him to 2-under, where he still was before a double bogey on 18 moved him back to par for the day.

'We are still in it but it's obviously a bit disappointing with our finish today,' Giles said. 'But as you look around the wind has picked up and its playing very tough out there. You can pick up strokes very, very easily on this course.

'We know we've got a great team. We've got five guys that can go out and play well and I think that's what you need to win a national championship.

'It was brutal (out there today). It was absolutely brutal. If you miss the fairway, it's pretty much a guaranteed bogey. The greens were a little bit tougher today with the winds. It was a tough day.'

Sophomore Rory Hie is still fighting for his eighth top 10 finish. He is currently tied for 17th at 7-over 223 (74-72-77) after a 5-over third round. Hie was sailing along at 1-under after the front 9 after birdies on the 1st and 8th holes and a bogey on the 5th. But a bogey on 12 dropped him to par and he finished the final four holes at 5-over.

Sophomore Jamie Lovemark, the defending NCAA individual champion who, like Hie, entered this week with seven top 10 marks, is still searching for his first par round. He is tied for 85th at 16-over 232 (79-75-78). A rough patch between the 5th and 8th holes sent him to a 5-over front 9, but he steadied his game on the back 9, coming home at 1-over for his best half-round of the tournament. It's momentum he hopes to build on for Saturday.

Junior Tom Glissmeyer is tied for 96th at 17-over 233 (75-80-78). Like Lovemark, Glissmeyer is working through his game during a tough opening three rounds. The first half of his day went well Friday and he was 1-under after 10 holes. But bogeys on 11 and 12 dropped him to 1-over and the final four holes sent him further off the pace.

USC's women's team won the NCAA title last week. If Troy manages a come-from-behind victory and wins the men's title, USC will become just the second team to win both the men's and women's NCAA titles in the same year. Arizona State was the first in 1990.

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