Golfers Leap Up NCAA Leaderboard in Round Two

June 2, 2005

Owings Mills, Md. – Nicholas Thompson birdied five of his last six holes Thursday for a one-under-par 69, while Roberto Castro continued his strong play with a 68 as Georgia Tech jumped up to third place after two rounds of the NCAA Division I Golf Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club.

The third-ranked Yellow Jackets, who were tied for 12th place after round one, posted a one-over-par 281 that stood up as the day’s best score, and enter the third round Friday 11 shots behind Georgia and two behind Tennessee.

The Bulldogs shot four-over-par 284, remaining the only team under par (-2) for 36 holes, nine shots ahead of the Volunteers, who posted an eight-over-par 288 and dropped to seven-over for the championship. Southern California is in fourth place after a two-over-par 282 left the Trojans at 12-over-par. UNLV, Duke, Georgia State and Washington are all tied for fifth place at 14-over.

Tech, Georgia and Tennessee will be paired together for Friday’s third round and tee off from the first tee at 7 a.m. The 30-team field will be trimmed to the low 15 following Friday’s round. Live scoring is available on Golfstat.com, and the Golf Channel will televised highlights and live action from 3-5 p.m.

“It was breezy when we got here today, and it didn’t get any worse, which was fortunate for us,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler. “The guys played well today. We made a birdie on 17, two birdies on 16 and two birdies on 18. We got through the front well, and we got through 7-8-9 better today than we did yesterday.

“We made some putts today. We putted really well around the hole today, whereas yesterday we missed a few. That’s the difference probably between the round.”

Thompson, who shot 75 on Wednesday, appeared headed for a similar fate Thursday before he birdied the par-five 13th hole and the par-four 14th. After a bogey at the par-three 15th in which his tee shot landed on the green but spun off about 45 feet from the front edge, he finished with birdies on 16, 17 and 18.

“I came down with six holes to play, I was three over, and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team,” said the senior from Coral Springs, Fla., who is one of the top candidates for the United States Walker Cup squad. “I hit a good drive and three wood and made a putt for birdie (on the 13th hole). Then I made three good birdies coming in. I was really just trying to get as many back for the team as possible.

“If you shoot even par on this golf course, you’re doing pretty good. They way they have it set up is tough, and it’s only going to get tougher. We went all the way from 14th to third, and that’s at one-over. That shows that the day was really tough out there.”

Castro’s 68, which included a two-under-par front nine, came on the heels of a 69 Wednesday and was his fourth consecutive subpar round, dating back to his 69-65 finish at the NCAA East Regional two weeks ago. He is tied for third place individually at three-under-par 137, three shots off the pace of Michael Putnam of Pepperdine, who has carded 67 each day for a six-under-par total of 134. Major Manning of Augusta State shot 70 Thursday and is at five-under-par 135.

Mike Barbosa (tied for 31st place individually) and Chan Song (tied for 48th) each chipped in with a 72, while Kevin Larsen posted a 74. Song’s round included two bogeys, no birdies and 16 pars.

Tech avoided trouble in the areas where it stumbled Wednesday, particularly at the par-five seventh hole and the par-three eighth. Tech failed to record a birdie on No. 7 Wednesday, but made two on Thursday. The Jackets played No. 8 even Thursday after making two bogeys and a double bogey in the opening round.

The teams that played in the morning Thursday generally had more difficult rounds, even though the weather conditions, though cooler, were not appreciably different than they were Wednesday. Georgia’s four-over-par score was the best among those 15 teams. Top-ranked Oklahoma State, at 21-over-par for 36 holes, nevertheless inched up to 15th place after shooting nine-over-par Thursday.

“Who knows what the scores are going to be here tomorrow, especially if it doesn’t rain,” said Heppler. “I think we have a good game plan, and that is to be patient. And when you can take a run, take a run. If you can’t, then just throw it up there and two-putt from 20 feet and keep your momentum. That’s how you have to play this golf course.”

NCAA GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPCaves Valley Golf Club, Owings Mills, Md.Second-Round Results

TOP 15 TEAMS Georgia 274-284 – 558 (-2) Tennessee 279-288 – 567 Georgia Tech 288-281 – 569 Southern California 290-282 – 572 UNLV 284-290 – 574 Duke 288-286 – 574 Georgia State 287-287 – 574 Washington 289-285 – 574 Augusta State 286-289 – 575 Brigham Young 285-290 – 575 Arizona State 291-285 – 576 Arizona 282-296 – 578 Florida 289-291 – 580 Wake Forest 287-293 – 580 Oklahoma State 292-289 – 581

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Michael Putnam, Pepperdine 67-67 – 134 (-6) Major Manning, Augusta State 65-70 – 135 Roberto Castro, Georgia Tech 69-68 – 137 James Lepp, Washington 70-67 – 137 Five tied at 138 (-2) Five tied at 139 (-1)

GEORGIA TECH SCORES Roberto Castro (T3) 69-68 – 137 (-3) Mike Barbosa (T31) 71-72 – 143 Nicholas Thompson (T37) 75-69 – 144 Chan Song (T48) 73-72 – 145 Kevin Larsen (T118) 77-74 – 151

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