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    SEC Golf Today: May 18

    Bulldogs Remain Fourth In NCAA Athens Regional

    ATHENS, Ga. - The 24th-ranked Georgia men’s golf team remained fourth on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Athens Regional being held at the UGA Golf Course.

    The Bulldogs shot a 4-over 288 on the par-71 layout on Friday to move to even-par 568 for the tournament.

    The top five teams after Saturday’s final round will advance to the NCAA Championships May 30-June 3 in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Georgia is seven shots ahead of fifth-place New Mexico and nine shots better than sixth-place North Carolina-Wilmington.

    “We’re still in good shape,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “We’ve got to go out and play solid tomorrow and not worry about what else is going on. That’s what we’ll preach to the guys: Don’t worry about the leaderboard. It’s a game; just go out and play.”

    Alabama has the overall team lead at 23-under 545, including an 8-under 276 on Friday. East Carolina is second at 11-under 557 and North Florida is third at 6-under 562.

    Junior T.J. Mitchell paced the Bulldogs on Friday with a 1-under 70. Mitchell began the day with a double bogey and two bogeys on his first three holes, but responded with six birdies over 13 holes. Even with a bogey on No. 18, Mitchell was pleased with his round.

    “I tried to stay mentally tough,” Mitchell said. “I knew there were birdies to be made, so I just hung in there and tried to stay as mentally tough as I could and fight it out. I didn’t get off to the start I wanted to, but I knew I could come around. I stayed confident even though the scores weren’t as good at the beginning.”

     “To start off the way he did and to get under par is outstanding,” Haack said. “It was probably the key to our round, having him make a comeback like that.”

    Sophomore Brian Carter added a 1-over 72, while sophomores Joey Garber and Keith Mitchell and freshman Nicholas Reach all signed for 2-over 73s.

    T.J. Mitchell is sixth in the individual race at 4-under 138, five shots behind Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt (133). Carter is 12th at 1-under 141, followed by Keith Mitchell in 26th at 2-over 144, Garber in 30th at 3-over 145 and Reach in 51st at 5-over 147.

    The Bulldogs will tee on Saturday in 10-minute increments from 7:50 to 8:30 a.m. Georgia will be paired with New Mexico and UNC-Wilmington.

    Live results and tee times for the Athens Regional can be found at golfstat.com. There is no charge for admission or parking for the event.



    Alabama Extends Lead at NCAA Athens Regional
     
    ATHENS, Ga. – Alabama’s top-seeded men’s golf team kept its foot on the gas in second-round action at the NCAA Athens Regional with an 8-under-par round of 276 to extend its lead to 12 shots on the par-71, 7,253-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
     
    “I was really proud of the guys today, probably more proud than I was yesterday,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “The field showed that you could put a low number on the golf course yesterday. Today the wind blew and it was much more difficult. The round we put together today, especially the last 12 holes – I was very impressed with our guys.”
     
    A trio of Crimson Tide individuals has blistered the top of the leader board with sophomore Bobby Wyatt holding the second-round lead at 9-under 133. True freshman and SEC Player of the Year Justin Thomas is second at 8-under 134 while Cory Whitsett is in fifth at 5-under 137.
     
    The Tide are 23-under-par 545 after 36 holes of play and enter Saturday’s final round with a 12-shot lead on second-place East Carolina (-11, 557) and a 30-shot advantage over fifth-place New Mexico (+7, 575). The top-five teams at the end Saturday’s round will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
     
    Second-seeded North Florida is in third position after a 3-over 291 left them at 6-under 562. Host Georgia is in fourth place at even-par 568 after shooting 4-over 288 on Friday. North Carolina-Wilmington is on the outside looking in on qualifying at 9-over 577 with Houston, Long Beach State and Wake Forest tied for seventh at 578.
     
    Wyatt, who began the round in a tie for second place, carded two birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 33. The Mobile, Ala., native then made bogey at No. 11 but finished strong with a birdie on the 14th and back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes. After his 67 on Friday, Wyatt now has 14 rounds at par or better this season and 11 rounds in the 60s (out of 29 total rounds).
     
    Thomas, from Goshen, Ky., got off to a slow start with bogeys on the first and fourth holes before erupting with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round and then finished with another birdie on the par-5 17th. The second-round 67 was his 22 round (out of 32) this season at par or better and his 14th round in the 60s.   
     
    Whitsett, a native of Houston, Texas, was steady throughout his round with three birdies, one bogey and 14 pars for a 69. He shot 68 in the opening round at the UGA Golf Course.
     
    Junior Scott Strohmeyer was the Tide fourth score on Friday with a 2-over 73 and is tied for 26th at 144. Senior Hunter Hamrick, who shot 68 in round one, struggled in the second round with a 77 and is tied for 30th at 3-over 145.
     
    In all, the Crimson Tide has made an astounding 42 birdies in the first two rounds while counting only 15 bogeys and nothing worse. A top-five finish tomorrow will ensure the Crimson Tide a trip to the NCAA Championships and Seawell is looking for more of the same out of his team.
     
    “It is really easy to get out of what you do when you have a lead and do something different,” Seawell said. “Our job all year is to the same thing every day, and we have done a good job of that. I expect us to come out and be the best we can be tomorrow and that is all I care about.”
     
    Alabama is scheduled to tee off at 7:40 a.m. (CDT) on Saturday in the final round of the NCAA Athens Regional. The Crimson Tide will be playing with North Florida and East Carolina.



    Gators Use Solid Second Round to Climb Up Leaderboard at NCAA East Regional

    Greensboro, N.C. – After a disappointing opening 18 yesterday, the University of Florida men’s golf team bounced back on the second day of the 2012 NCAA East Regional at the Grandover Resort East Course by firing a 287 (-1), the best round of the day by four strokes. UF currently sits in third place overall, 10 strokes behind Liberty. The top-5 teams after tomorrow’s final round advance to the NCAA Championship.

    “A round like this is what I hoped for yesterday, what I hope for tomorrow and what I hope for all week,” said head coach Buddy Alexander. “After the round yesterday we challenged the team to shoot the low round of the day and they responded pretty darn well so I’m happy about that but we have a long way to go and can in no way celebrate yet. It’s a big day tomorrow and we just have to go out and play our game.”

    For the day, the Gators were led by a trio of golfers, junior T.J. Vogel (Cooper City, Fla.), freshman J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, Fla.) and junior Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra, Fla.), who shot rounds of even par or better.

    “T.J. played solid all day. Tyler had a good round, just one bad shot that cost him two strokes and J.D. was J.D. He just plodded around a put together a really solid round,” Alexander explained.

    Vogel led the Orange and Blue on the day with a two-under round of 70. After a slow start of one-over through seven holes, Vogel got his round going with birdies on the par-4 17th and the par-5 18th to make the turn in one-under, 35. After dropping a stroke at the third, Vogel again responded with back-to-back birdies, this time on the par-4 fifth and par-5 sixth. Vogel was able to par out from there to post his team-best 21st round at or under par on the season.

    Joining Vogel in the red was Tomlinson, who is in a tie for seventh overall after a one-under round of 71. After a bogey on his opening hole, the par-4 10th, Tomlinson caught fire making a trio of birdies on the back nine to turn in two-under, 34. On hi s homeward half, Tomlinson carded a birdie against two bogeys to sit at even par (144) for tournament after the second round.

    McCumber got off to a quick start playing his first eight holes in two-under before dropping a shot at the 18th to turn in 35. On the front nine, McCumber was more up-and-down tallying two birdies against a bogey and a double to finish his day at even par, 72. McCumber sits in a tie for 12th heading into the final day of competition.

    Freshman Eric Banks (Truro, Canada) used a trio of birdies, including one on his closing hole, against five bogeys to post a 74 which also counted for the Orange and Blue’s team score. Banks sits in a tie for 24th after a two round total of 149 (+5).

    “Eric made some adjustments on his back nine and was able to piece together a score which ended up being really important for us. So I’m proud of how he responded out there today,” Alexander said.

    Senior Michael Furci (Sayville, N.Y.) rounded out the UF lineup with a 79.



    Gamecocks Move Up to Eighth After Two Rounds at NCAA Southwest Regional

    NORMAN, Okla. - The South Carolina men’s golf team battled extremely high winds on Friday at the NCAA Southwest Regional on its way to shooting a second-round 302 (+14) at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

    The Gamecocks moved two spots up the leaderboard into eighth place with a two-round total of 596 (+20), as the field played in winds up to 30 mph for most of the day. Washington turned in a 7-under 281 to take the overall lead with a total of 567 (-9). Florida State is in second with a score of 571 (-5), followed by Texas (572), Illinois (575) and Georgia Tech (576). The top five teams will advance to the NCAA Championship.

    “It’s been really frustrating to not have more than a couple of guys to play well the last two days, but on the other hand to have two of our freshmen, Caleb Sturgeon and Will Murphy, come back strong today was a positive,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “The way the golf course was playing, we really missed an opportunity to move up the board by throwing away some shots early in the round.”

    Freshman Caleb Sturgeon led the way with a solid round of even-par 72 and is tied for 43rd with a total of 152 (+8). The Laurens, S.C, native had the lowest nine-hole score of the round as he posted a 4-under 32 on the front side. He struggled at times on the back nine when the winds picked up, as did the rest of the field. He recorded bogeys on four of his first five holes before closing out his day with four straight pars.

    Freshman Will Murphy overcame two double bogeys and a bogey on the front nine to fight back for a round of 2-over 74. He recorded a team-high five birdies on the day to move 18 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for 50th with a total of 153 (+9).

    Senior Wesley Bryan remained in the top 20 with a 3-over 75. He will head into the final round in a tie for 13th with a score of 144 (E), which is seven shots off the lead. For the round, Bryan recorded three birdies, six bogeys and nine pars.

    Freshman Sean Kelly and junior Dykes Harbin shot rounds of 81 (+9) and 83 (+11), respectively. Kelly is in a tie for 55th with a score of 154 (+10), while Harbin is tied for 64th with a total of 156 (+12).

    Illinois’ Thomas Pieters holds the individual lead with a score of 137 (-7), while Florida State’s Daniel Berger is one shot back with a score of 138 (-6).

    Carolina will tee off in the final round on Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. CT on hole No. 10. The Gamecocks are paired with St. Mary’s and Sacramento State. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.



    Tracy’s 67 Leads Razorbacks at Regional
     
    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Senior Ethan Tracy of the University of Arkansas men’s golf team fired a five-under par, 67, the third best score by a Razorback at a NCAA Regional ever, on the second day of competition at NCAA Bowling Green Regional held at The Club at Olde Stone on Friday.  The sterling performance by Tracy allowed Arkansas to improve 10 strokes from Thursday’s first round and has Arkansas tied for 10th as a team.
                
    The Razorbacks were one of 10 teams to improve from day one to day two and their 10-point swing was the fourth best among the 14 teams.  No. 3 UCLA continues to lead the team standings at five-under par, followed by No. 15 Texas A&M who improved 17 strokes on Friday to shoot 10-under par and move into second place.  Chattanooga (-1), Memphis (+6) and Virginia Tech (+7) round out the all-important top five places who receive bids to the NCAA Championship.  Arkansas (+18) is tied with North Texas for 10th overall.
                
    “We were better today than we were yesterday,” Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin said.  “That said we still have a lot of work to do if we want to make it to the national championship.  I know that we can play better than we have shown, but it will take all five guys making putts, and hitting fairways if we want to qualify.”
                
    Tracy’s second round included six birdies and just a single bogey as he torched the back nine for five birdies over the nine-hole stretch.  Beginning his round on No. 10, he sunk his first birdie putt on the 11th hole and made it back-to-back birdies with another on No. 12.  He would again sink back-to-back birdies on No. 14 and No. 15 before closing out with a birdie on No. 18.  Moving to the much tougher front nine, Tracy sank seven par putts with a birdie on the par four, fifth, before making his only bogey on No. 9 to close the round.
                
    The round of 67 by Tracy trails Eric Shriver (2003-3rd round) and former All-America Craig Lile (2000-3rd round) who each shot 66 at a NCAA Regional and matched the efforts of Jamie Marshall (2010-2nd round), Tag Ridings (1997-1st round) and Brenden Pappas (1991-1st round) who also scored 67.  The Hilliard, Ohio, native’s two-round score of 143, one-under par, has him on pace to finish with one of the best regional scores in Arkansas history as well as in striking distance of making the NCAA Championship field as an individual should the Razorbacks not make it as a team.
                
    “Ethan had a tremendous round and really took advantage of the back nine,” McMakin said.  “His putting was solid the entire day and he carried us as a team.  I am really proud of what he did today and know that he has another round like under his belt.”
                
    Sophomore Sebastian Cappelen produced another solid round on Friday when he finished with a score of even par.  Cappelen was aided tremendously by an eagle on the par five, seventh, when he holed out from 88 yards and his round would also include three birdies, five bogeys and nine pars.  Opening the round with three pars and a birdie on No. 11, Cappelen then went through a rough stretch that included three bogeys in four holes before he birdied No. 18.  He would fight back to even par with a birdie on No. 2, where he would remain until a bogey on the par four, sixth.  His eagle got him back to one-under before he chipped and two-putted on 18 for a bogey.
                
    Wanting to improve from his difficult first round, junior Austin Cook played the course at one-over par on Friday, an eight-shot improvement from Thursday’s score.  Sinking par after par, Cook bogeyed No. 15, but closed out the back side of the course with back-to-back birdies to get to one-under par.  Bogeys on No. 1 and No. 3 hurt his score, but a birdie on No. 6 moved him back to even par where he would remain until a bad break on No. 18 forced him to lay up instead of going for the green in two which cost him another bogey.
                
    Arkansas’ final score of the day came from junior Josh Eure and freshman Thomas Sorensen who shot matching rounds of eight-over par on Friday.  Eure had a tough start with a double bogey on No. 11, but back-to-back birdies on No. 12 and 13 got him back to even par.  A triple bogey on No. 15 ruined the promising start and the third-year player closed out the round with another big score.
                
    Sorensen’s putting was his nemesis on Friday as several three-putts changed what could have been a great score into a difficult day.  Sorensen’s round included two birdies, eight bogeys and a double bogey.
                
    The Razorbacks look to make a move into the top five at the Regional on Saturday when they tee off at 8:20 a.m., from the 10th tee.  The Razorbacks will play with players from North Texas and Jacksonville State in the final round of competition.



    LSU Men's Golf Team in 10th Place on Day 2 at Stanford Regional
     
    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Led by an even-par round of 70 by senior All-America candidate Sang Yi, the fifth-seeded LSU men’s golf team wrapped up Friday’s second round at the NCAA Palo Alto Regional in 10th place in the team standings with a team score of 3-over par 283 at the Stanford Golf Course.
     
    Yi followed his 4-under par 66 in the opening round on Thursday with an even-par 70 in the second round on Friday to finish the day in a tie for eighth place on the leaderboard at 4-under par 136.
     
    The Tigers find themselves in 10th place in the team standings following the second round with their score of 5-over par 565 in 36 holes at the par-70 Stanford Golf Course. After tying for eighth place with a round of 2-over 282 on Thursday, the Tigers dropped into 10th place after posting a 3-over 283 on Friday.
     
    The top five teams in the final tournament standings and the low individual not among the top five squads following 54 holes of competition will advance to the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships being held May 29-June 3 at historic Riviera Golf Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
     
    The No. 7-ranked and No. 1-seeded California Golden Bears fired a 10-under 270 to take a narrow one-shot lead over the No. 14-ranked and No. 3-seeded San Diego State Aztecs with their 36-hole score of 14-under par 546. No. 8-ranked and No. 2-seeded Stanford follows in a tie for third place with the No. 6 seed UAB at 8-under 552, while No. 8 seed Tennessee rounds out the top five in fifth place at 7-under 553.
     
    Although the Tigers find themselves 12 shots off the pace for the fifth and final qualifying spot, Yi is now tied for third among individuals vying for an NCAA tourney berth outside of the top five teams.
     
    Three Tigers posted matching rounds of 1-over par 71 on Friday afternoon as sophomore Andrew Presley, freshman Stewart Jolly and freshman Curtis Thompson joined Yi in the team scoring.
     
    Thompson wrapped up the second round in a tie for 30th place on the leaderboard at even-par 140 after 36 holes at the NCAA Palo Alto Regional, while Jolly finished the day in a tie for 47th place at 3-over 143 and Presley ended the round in a tie for 58th place at 6-over 146. Senior Austin Gutgsell carded a round of 6-over 76 on Friday to wrap up the day in 75th place with a 36-hole score of 15-over 155.
     
    California’s Michael Kim fired a 6-under par 64 to take a one-shot lead in the chase for the individual title as he has posted a 9-under 131 in two rounds. Pepperdine’s Josh Anderson and BYU’s Zachary Blair trail by just a single shot in a tie for second place overall at 8-under 132.
     
    The Tigers are paired with UC-Davis and San Jose State in Saturday’s final round at the NCAA Palo Alto Regional as they will tee off in the second wave off the back nine beginning at 10:25 a.m. CDT. Golfstat will provide the live scoring of the final round, which can be found online at www.golfstat.com.



    Vols Fifth but Not Home Free

    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Get ready, Vols.

    Tennessee placed itself in prime position to advance through the NCAA Stanford Regional, shooting a 7-under-par 273 Friday to climb into fifth place. But that’s directly on the cut line for a berth in the NCAA Championship, and Saturday’s final round promises to be a shootout with only five strokes separating the teams in the third through eighth positions.

    “It usually comes down to the last day and, sure enough, that’s what we’re faced with,” UT head coach Jim Kelson said. “But that’s what we work for and it ought to be a lot of fun Saturday. They’re going to really enjoy it and embrace it. They’re in a good frame of mind and now we just have to go out and play well.”

    Three Tennessee players did just that Friday, led by Rick Lamb’s collegiate-record low 65. Garrick Porteous added a 66 and Jay Vandeventer shot 68.

    And both Lamb and Vandeventer bogeyed the last hole from inside 100 yards.

    “It was a good round but it could have been really good,” Kelson said. “There are going to be a lot of teams play well Saturday and it’s going to take a very good round, but our players know that.

    “We just need more of the same stuff we had today.”

    Danny Keddie added 74 to close out the Tennessee scoring, and Brandon Rodgers came home in 75.

    Top-seeded California moved into first place at 14-under-par 546. Third-seeded San Diego State played alongside Tennessee on Friday and shot the round of the tournament, a 15-under 265 to improve to 13-under 547 for the week.

    UAB and Stanford are tied at 552, just ahead of UT’s 553. San Francisco (554), Oregon State (556) and Central Florida (557) are chasing the leaders.

    Four in a Row

    Lamb posted six birdies Friday, including a wicked stretch of four in a row from holes 13-16. The Vols began their day on No. 10 and Lamb’s scorecard read 31-34, beating by one stroke his previous collegiate low set last year during the Pacific Invitational when Lamb was a sophomore at Santa Clara.

    “I just didn’t make many mistakes,” he said. “Well, except for on (No.) 9. I had a sand wedge in my hand and hit probably one of the worst shots I’ve hit in a while. It happens.”

    One of the lefthander’s best shots was a laser at the 197-yard, par-3 14th hole. He nearly aced it before tapping in from about 2 feet past.

    Lamb improved 11 places in the individual standings to a tie for sixth at 6-under 134.

    Birdie Window

    Porteous matched Lamb’s birdie total of six for the day and first-nine score of 31. He started his run with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, the second of which needed a little imagination.

    “I got a little unlucky with the drive and stopped right between the two trees,” Porteous said of the hole that features two large trees directly in the middle of the fairway. “But I had a window over one branch and under another branch and managed to get it to the front edge, and then I holed the putt.”

    Tennessee’s senior captain has taken his leadership duties seriously this year, and would love nothing better than to be the first Vols golfer in school history to compete in four straight NCAA Championships.

    “Anything can happen Saturday,” he said. “It’s the last day and it’s all about grinding it out.”

    Porteous finished with a 31-35 scorecard to improve 19 places to a tie for eighth place at 4-under 136.

    What a Day

    Vandeventer continued bucking the Tennessee trend here at Stanford, posting for the second day in a row a better score on the traditional front nine than the back. He was 2 over for his first nine holes before turning things around with a string of five birdies over Nos. 1-7.

    “What a day; I just caught fire,” Vandeventer said. “I was walking up 18 and I told myself I wasn’t playing badly. I knew I had the front side to make some birdies and I was able to keep calm and stick to my game plan of not getting too emotional out there.

    “I got up and down on No. 1 for birdie and just caught fire with the putter.”

    Vandeventer’s only late misstep came at the last.

    “It’s a little unfortunate to finish like that on No. 9 but it happens,” he said of his three-putt from just off the front. “That’s golf, and it will make me focus a little better.”

    Despite his 37-31 scorecard, the junior actually dropped one place in the individual standings to a tie for eighth at 4-under 136.

    Just Like Last Year

    Keddie knows a thing or two about playing under the pressure of an NCAA Finals bid on the line. At the 2011 Indiana Regional with the Vols needing their best score of the week, Keddie turned his second-round 75 into a final-day 66 to lead the charge.

    Could the sophomore have another such bolt in him?

    “I felt I played quite a lot better,” he said of his Friday effort. “I just had a couple of shots into places where you couldn’t really miss it. Those were guaranteed bogeys when I missed it there.

    “If I can get off to a fast start tomorrow I’ll be all right. Hopefully we can get four good scores in Saturday and everyone can go low. We did it last year so it’s time to do it again.”

    Keddie shot 39-35 Friday and is tied for 70th place at 10-over 150.

    Team Player

    Rodgers said his Friday result was softened significantly by the scores his teammates posted.

    “Although I struggled today, my guys are really playing well,” he said. “It’s nice to see them doing well and giving me a boost to play better Saturday.”

    The Farragut sophomore never connected off the tee, which happens to be requirement No. 1 to play well at the Stanford Golf Course.

    “It was a struggle, to be honest,” Rodgers said. “For the first time in a while I struggled off the tee. It was just one of those days. I was hitting the ball decently but just couldn’t get it in the hole. I’m looking for better on Saturday.”

    Rodgers finished with a 38-37 scorecard and is tied for 66th place at 8-over 148.

    Another Early Post

    Tennessee’s final round begins at 7:50 a.m. Pacific time on the No. 1 tee, with fourth-place UAB and sixth-place San Francisco the playing partners. San Francisco was the first-day leader at 7 under par before falling to 1 over on Friday, while UAB has been under par as a team both days.

    Saturday’s weather calls for another sunny day, with temperatures starting in the mid-50s and reaching the low 70s by round’s end. Winds should stay below 10 mph.