Cowboys Extend Lead At NCAA Colorado Regional
ERIE, Colo. - No. 1 Oklahoma State entered Friday's second round of the NCAA Men's Golf Colorado Regional with a modest four-stroke lead, but by the end of the day, the Cowboys own a very comfortable 16 shot advantage in their bid to win an NCAA-record ninth regional title.
The top-ranked Cowboys, who turned in a 12-under par score of 276 in the first round, one-upped themselves with a 275 Friday for a 25-under total of 551, well ahead of No. 9 Auburn, which is nestled in second with a 567 score.
Oklahoma State has continued to prove it is most deserving of its top spot in all three major rankings (Golfweek, GolfStat, GCAA/Nike Coaches). The top four scorers out of five players competing account for the daily team score; the Cowboys threw out a 72 in the first round and a 71 in the second; their five players combined over 180 holes in two days have an eagle, 39 birdies and 126 pars'meaning just 14 holes over par, 13 of which are single birdies and one double.
The top five teams, plus the top individual from a team outside the top 5 or from 10 competing here as solo performers, will advance to the NCAA Championship Finals in Stillwater, May 31-June 5.
Thus, Auburn knows it's not a lock to advance. The Tigers head a six-team logjam from second to seventh place separated by all of five shots. No. 12 Georgia stormed back Friday, as after the Bulldogs were in a tie for ninth heading into round two, they came back to post the second-best team score of the day (12-under 276). UGA caught No. 25 Clemson for third place at 570, with No. 40 TCU currently fifth at 571.
Tied for sixth just one back at 572 are No. 31 Arizona State, and No. 65 Colorado State, the Rams perhaps the most dangerous of the six vying for a qualifying spot as they know the 7,758-yard, par-72 Colorado National Golf Club layout better than any of the schools here.
The day started with seven teams and 33 golfers overall finishing the first round, which was suspended Thursday due to lightning in the vicinity and standing water on several greens and elsewhere on the course. The team leaderboard didn't change much, and Colorado State's Zahkai Brown was the individual leader after recording a 7-under par 65, tying the course record set by France's Alexandre Kaleka in the U.S. Amateur Qualifier in 2007.
The weather improved from Thursday's conditions which included rain, temperatures between 38 and 44 degrees and 11-15 miles per hour winds that had the wind chill as low as 31. Friday's temperature reached 60 degrees and the wind occasionally topped 10 mph; the skies held off from opening up until 3:30, when the horn was again blown for lightning in the area. The storm moved through and play resumed shortly after 5 p.m.
Oklahoma State teammates, junior Kevin Tway and sophomore Sean Einhaus, along with Georgia sophomore T.J. Mitchell share the individual lead through two rounds, as all are in with 7-under 137 totals.
Tway on Friday became the third player in CNGC history to shoot a 7-under 65 to tie the course record after firing an even-par effort to open the regional. He had seven birdies on the day, nine over the two rounds with 26 pars, his only misstep a double-bogey on No. 10, his first hole of the tournament. Einhaus opened with a 66 and came back with a 71 for his total; after having seven birdies and a single bogey on Thursday, his round was more adventurous the second trip around Colorado National's loop: he had an eagle (on the par-5, 564-yard No. 12), four birdies, nine pars, three birdies and a double (which preceded his eagle, scoring a six on No. 11).
Mitchell scored a 68 in the second round, in which he posted four birdies and 14 pars; he had five birdies and three bogeys with 10 pars for an opening effort of 69 on Thursday.
As for CSU's Brown, the first round leader, he couldn't recapture his Thursday magic on CNGC's tougher front nine; after a searing 32 with four birdies in the first round (and a field-best eight birdies overall), he struggled with a 45 on the side and no birdies Friday en route to an 82 for the second round and a 147 total.
Saturday's third and final round is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m.
NOTES: Despite the challenging weather conditions and what is the longest course in NCAA championship history, 25 players in the 75-man field are under par, with another six matching it through 36 holes. The average score for the first round was 73.4, dropping to 72.3 for the second.