Strong Third-Round Start Puts Cal Back in Mix at NCAA’s
Hutchinson, Kan. – A strong third-round start Sunday has moved Cal back into the mix at the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship with the Golden Bears tied for 14th when third-round play was suspended at 6:45 p.m. CT due to inclement weather and never resumed. Cal is currently four shots out of a coveted top eight spot that would put the Bears into match play at the NCAA Championship for the third consecutive year.
Third-round action is slated to resume at the par-70, 6,941-yard Prairie Dunes Country Club on Monday at 7:30 a.m. PT.
“We know we’re playing for our lives,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “We know how important every shot on every hole is.”
Cal is one-under par as a team nearly halfway through its third round with Brandon Hagy playing eight holes and each of the team’s other four players getting in seven before action was stopped.
“We knew we had to get off to a great start this afternoon,” Desimone said. “We did and we have put ourselves in a position that if we can continue to build on the momentum of this afternoon we have a legitimate shot of pulling this off. There’s a long way to go, but right now we’re moving in the right direction.”
“The difference today is that we made some of the putts that we missed yesterday,” Desimone added. “There is no question we were putting better and we made some birdies, but we’re going to have to make more tomorrow. If we do we’ll see what happens.”
Cal is playing in the first wave of the third round for teams in positions 16-30 on the leaderboard at the end of two rounds. The top 15 teams on the leaderboard at the end of two rounds will play in the second wave of the third round scheduled to begin Monday following the conclusion of the first wave.
There is a limited but unspecified amount of time for the 15 teams in the third round’s first wave to complete their round. If play is unable to be completed in that window, all third-round scores from the first round of the second wave will be declared null and void. In such a case, round three scores from only the top 15 teams and six low individuals not on those teams (based on non-sudden death tie breaking procedures) will determine the eight teams for match play and the individual champion.
Match-play quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday with the championship match slated for Wednesday. A fourth round of stroke-play competition originally scheduled for Monday with the low 40 individuals and ties following three rounds to determine the individual medalist has been cancelled.
“I want to salute the NCAA Men’s Golf Committee for making some great decisions that are attempting to get all 30 teams on the golf course for 54 holes,” Desimone said. “We probably will get some decent conditions tomorrow. Hopefully, Mother Nature will allow us to get our round in and the rounds following us in. If we do, maybe we can sneak one in here.”
Michael Weaver has led Cal in third-round action at two-under par, including birdies on three of his final four holes before play was halted. Starting on the 18th hole of a shotgun start, Weaver tallied two pars and a bogey on the par-three second hole before birdies on the par-four third, par-three fourth and par-four sixth.
“We have to go out there and give it our all tomorrow,” Weaver said. “We know it’s our last chance to make a statement and get into match play. We know we are capable of playing well on this course and there’s no better time than tomorrow to finish the round off strong.”
Hagy was one-over through the first six holes of his round before making a 10-foot putt for eagle on the par-five seventh followed by a par on the eighth to conclude his action for the day. His lone bogey came on the fourth.
“We’re going to have to play our hearts out,” Hagy said. “We have gotten off to a pretty good start and just need to hang in there. This team has a great round it.”
Joël Stalter is also at one-under through the first seven holes of his third round with three birdies (3, 4, 7) and a pair of bogeys on the par-four first and sixth.
Pace Johnson is three-over through seven holes of the third round. Starting on the 17th, Johnson birdied the par-four 18th but played his next five holes in four over with bogeys on the first and fifth holes and a double bogey on the third, all par-fours.
Shotaro Ban is six-over through his first seven holes but as of now his round is the non-counter for the team score. Ban started with a double bogey on 18, birdied three to get back to one-over par for the round but then had a quadruple bogey on the fifth hole and a bogey on the sixth.
All players in the Cal lineup other than the sophomore Ban are seniors playing in their final NCAA Championship.
“It would be awesome to get back to match play for these guys,” Desimone said. “I know that’s what they want and they want it badly. There’s a heck of a story in the making here and let’s hope we can pull it off.”
Hagy leads all Cal players on the individual leaderboard at one-under par through a total of 44 holes, while Stalter and Weaver are next tied for 41st at one-over par through 43 holes. Ban is tied for 122nd at 10-over par with Johnson tied for 148th at 17-over par, both also thru 43 holes.
Stanford (281-267 – 548, -12) will start third-round action with a four-stroke lead on Alabama (274-278 – 552, -8) with the remainder of the current top eight including Oklahoma State (277-279 – 556, -4), LSU (279-278 – 557, -3), Georgia Tech (277-282 – 559, -1), SMU (275-285 – 560, E), Oklahoma (273-287 – 560, E) and UCLA (279-284 – 563, +3). All eight are scheduled to play in the second wave of the third round Monday.
Cameron Wilson of Stanford (71-63 – 134, -6) remains on top of the current individual leaderboard, one shot ahead of teammate Patrick Rodgers (67-68 – 135, -5).