Tech to Begin NCAA Final Round in 5th Place
Jackets drift up as rest of teams complete 36 holes Sunday, will tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Monday
May 25, 2014
Hutchinson, Kan. - Georgia Tech's golf team drifted up into fifth place Sunday as the rest of the field completed their second rounds at the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship, and will tee off for its final round Monday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, looking for its fourth match-play berth in six years.
The Yellow Jackets, who finished Saturday's 36-hole marathon in near-darkness in a tie for 10th place, practiced Sunday at Prairie Dunes as 24 teams returned to the course early in the morning to complete their second rounds. With high winds prevailing over the 6,941-yard, par-70 course, scores rose and five of the teams ahead of Tech fell behind the Jackets.
Third-ranked Stanford (-12) has the 36-hole lead, followed by top-ranked Alabama (-8), No. 2 Oklahoma State (-4) and No. 16 LSU (-3), while the Jackets (-1) hold fifth place. SMU and Oklahoma, both at even par, are tied for sixth place, while UCLA (+3) is in eighth. The top eight teams following the third and final round will advance to the match play bracket which begins Tuesday morning.
South Carolina (+4), Illinois (+5), Auburn (+6), Vanderbilt (+6), Washington (+6), Texas (+7) and UAB (+7) occupy the ninth through 15th spots after 36 holes and will begin their final rounds Monday afternoon. Only 13 shots separate the third-through-17th-place teams.
Tech will be paired with LSU and SMU for the final round and begin at the first tee. Golf Channel will provide live television coverage of tomorrow's final round from 5 p.m. Eastern time to the conclusion of play. The network also will televise both days of match play, beginning at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday and Wednesday.
"You can never be too far ahead, but we have a chance, and that's all you can ask with 18 holes to go," said Tech coach Bruce Heppler, whose team finished second in 54 holes of stroke play and reached the semi-finals of match play last year. "Last night, there was a lot of uncertainty, but now they know where they are and what the task is."
With Friday's round washed out and the final stroke-play round delayed until Monday, Tech has had two days off during the championship since arriving in Hutchinson, and has passed the time by seeing two movies (Godzilla and X-Men) and practicing. And by not playing on Sunday, Tech avoided the strongest winds the course has seen in three days.
"It was harder out here today than what we finished in (Saturday night)," said Heppler, whose Jackets have advanced to match play three times in the last five years. "We caught a break in the 36 holes that we played, with no delays, and we've definitely gotten the better end of the weather. This is an opportunity, and what we came here for, to have a chance. It's worked out to where we'll have it."
Forced by more than eight hours of weather delays Friday and another one-hour delay Sunday morning, the NCAA golf championship committee cancelled Monday's originally scheduled fourth round for the top 40 individuals and ties, which was to determine the NCAA individual champion.
In addition, upon completion of round two, the teams seeded 16-30 after 36 holes would turn around and begin their third rounds in a shotgun start, which began at 5:40 p.m. ET. That group, which included top-10 teams California and Georgia, as well as No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 12 Arkansas, will complete their third rounds Monday morning if they are not able to finish by nightfall Sunday.
"The committee made the best decision they could, because it kept everybody in it and gave everybody a chance to play 54 holes, which is what they come here for," said Heppler. "There will still be an individual champion, so I thought they made a great choice."
Individually, Stanford teammates Cameron Wilson (134, -6), who shot 63 Saturday in his second round, and Patrick Rodgers (135, -5), who has shot 67-68, occupy the top two positions in the race for individual champion, while Tech's Ollie Schniderhans (71-65) is in a group of five players at 4-under-par 136. The Yellow Jackets' Seth Reeves, who shot 66 in the opening round Saturday, is tied for 13th place at 2-under-par 138.
The forecast for Sunday is for sunny skies most of the day with a 40 percent chance of scattered storms in the afternoon, high temperatures in the low 80s.