UPDATED: Husky Golfers Climb Back into Hunt for NCAA Title
May 31, 2002
Columbus, OH - The Washington men's golf team is in third place, just two strokes off the lead, with one round remaining to be played at the NCAA Championships at Ohio State's Scarlet Course. Husky sophomore Brock Mackenzie (Yakima) is in third place in the individual competition, two strokes behind the tournament leader.
Despite windy conditions that inflated the scores of most of the teams at the top of the leaderboard, Washington managed to shoot 1-over 285 to climb back in the hunt for the team title. The Huskies' score was the third best during the third round. After 54 holes the UW has a 3-over score of 855.
Starting at 7 a.m., Washington benefited from about two hours of play in calm conditions before the gusty winds hit the course. The Huskies finished their front nine holes at 4-under and had improved that to 6-under by the time all five golfers had played 13 holes.
'It is kind of hard to believe,' said Husky first-year coach Matt Thurmond. 'We were around five under with five holes to play and we leaked a lot of oil coming in. I was pretty disappointed about it until I looked at the leaderboard and saw today's scores. That made me feel a lot better. To shoot one over as a team in these conditions was quite an achievement. The guys played really well. We'll go out tomorrow and have some fun and see what happens.'
The Huskies entered Friday's third round tied for ninth place at 2-over 570, trailing Clemson and Georgia Tech by seven strokes.
Friday the Yellowjackets shot 6-over 290 to hold the overall lead at 1-over 853. Tulsa, which managed to shoot even par during the third round, is second at 2-over 854. Minnesota carded the day's best score, a 1-under 283 to tie Texas for fourth place at 4-over 856.
Clemson took the biggest drop among the leaders. The Tigers turned in a 14-over score of 298 to fall back to 14th at 9-over 861.
The margin between the top teams vying for the championship is extremely close heading into Saturday's final round. Only nine strokes separate Georgia Tech from the 14th-place Tigers.
The race for the individual crown is also a logjam.
Mackenzie shot 1-over 72 on Friday for a three-day total of 6-under 207. He trails UAB's Graeme McDowell by two strokes. McDowell carded a 4-under round of 67 for the second consecutive day to grab the overall lead. Oklahoma State's Hunter Mahan, who had two eagles during his third round, is second at 7-under 206. TCU's Adam Rubinson and North Carolina State's Justin Walters are tied at 5-under.
'Brock hit the ball really well, even with the wind,' Thurmond said. 'He's been near the top of every tournament this year, so I'm not surprised he's one of the leaders here.'
'I'm in a good position,' Mackenzie said. 'I'm hitting it the way I want. Hopefully a couple of putts will drop tomorrow. Anything can happen out there.
'With the course conditions, we've been fortunate to be able to throw the ball at the pin and have it stop. If we get a little bit more wind tonight and it dries everything up, it will be really interesting tomorrow. The course will play really tough.'
Washington junior Conner Robbins turned in Washington's best score Friday, shooting 1-under 70. Robbins was 4-under through 16 holes before recording a bogie on 17 and a double-bogie on 18.
'I can usually hit the ball pretty good in the wind so it did not really bother me,' Robbins said. 'I've been making a lot of par putts here, so that leaves me some room to take some chances on the course.'
Washington's best showing at the NCAA Championships came in 1999 when the Huskies placed fourth behind Troy Kelley's second-place finish.
Later afternoon thunderstorms halted play with nine teams still on the course. Each of those schools stood between 17 and 30 in the standings and did not figure to impact the top of the tournament standings.
Live scoring and tournament results are available at www.Golfstat.com.