California Leads NCAA Golf Championships After Second Round

June 3, 2004

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- The University of California found the going tough in the second round, but the Golden Bears managed to maintain their lead at the NCAA Division I Golf Championships at the par-70, 6,679-yard Cascades Golf Course in Hot Springs, Va.

The Golden Bears, who shot 1-under-par in the first round, finished with a second-round total of 9-over-par 289 as the top four scores out of five golfers comprise the team's total round. Their overall two-round score of 568 leaves them one stroke ahead of second-place Kentucky (569) and two strokes over third-place BYU (570) in the championships.

'We played well on the back nine when the wind was howling,' Cal coach Steve Desimone said of his team, which teed off on the back nine. 'We were praying for good conditions and we got them. I guess Santa came too early for us. It was a disappointing final nine.

'But hey, we're still up one. We've got two rounds to go. No one said this was going to be easy.' Pepperdine, which was the only team under par on the day (4-under), and Washington sit in fourth place with a two-round total of 571. Georgia State and UCLA are tied for sixth (572).

The rest of the top 11 included TCU (573) and Arizona (573), and Florida (574), Texas (574) and Georgia Tech (574). Defending national champion Clemson, as a team, shot 10-over-par on the day and is in 13th place in the championship with an overall score of 15-over-par 575.

Kentucky, making its fifth trip to the NCAAs, was the surprise team of the second round. The Wildcats, winners of the Central Regional in West Lafayette, Ind., a week ago, shot 6-over-par as a team to pull within a stroke of the lead. The Wildcats got a great performance from junior Matt Wells, who shot 2-under-par on the day and moved into a tie for first place in the fight for the individual title at 4-under for the championships.

'I've shot back-to-back 68s, so I'm happy with that,' Wells said. 'I played better today than I did yesterday. I hit it well and I putted better than I have been, and that helped out a lot.'

'These guys, in the last two or three years, have made some great strides and I'm real proud of that,' Kentucky coach Brian Craig said. 'They've started to believe and they feel like they belong, which they absolutely do. In the regionals, we picked a great time to put it all together and we're riding off that confidence right now.'

Wells is tied with Arizona senior Chris Nallen and Cal junior Jeff Hood - the first-round leader. Hood shot 5-under in the first round and had it to 7-under in the second round, but he bogeyed No. 3, suffered a double bogey on No. 6 and bogeyed No. 8 to finish with a 1-over 71 on the day.

'I just could not make any putts,' Hood said. 'Nothing went in. I bet I had five or six putts inside of 10 feet and didn't make any of them. I think 71 is the highest I could have shot. I'm not happy with it, but compared to a lot of others, it's a great score.'

Nallen, Arizona's All-American, shot a 3-under-par on the day, recording four birdies and just one bogey, and moved to 4-under for the tournament. Arizona is tied for eighth in the championships, with a two-round total of 573.

'The guys played awesome,' Nallen said. 'We've talked and we're not out of it. We're disappointed in our [first] round, but we said that's in the past and let's go out today with positive attitudes and not doing anything stupid and put up big numbers. That's what hurt us yesterday. We had a lot of bogeys and double bogeys, and you can't be doing that out here. It'll just catch up with you. We've got to go out and do the best we can and not take any steps backwards. That's our main goal.

'Hopefully this will put us in the top seven or eight. We just want to get in contention and be in the top three or top five heading into the last round.'

Pepperdine's Michael Putnam fired the best round of the day. He shot 5-under in the second, with five birdies and no bogeys, to move to 1-under for the tournament.

A logjam of golfers stand at 3-under for the tournament, including Kansas State's A.J. Elgert, UCLA's Travis Johnson and UNLV's Ryan Moore. Wake Forest's Bill Haas, the son of PGA golfer Jay Haas, is one of three golfers at 2-under for the tournament.

The third round begins Thursday at 7 a.m. as Thursday represents cut day. Only the top 15 teams will compete in the final round Friday.

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