June 2, 2004
Hot Springs, Va. – Chan Wongluekiet and Kevin Larsen each shot 1-under-par 69 Wednesday, and Georgia Tech made up some ground on the field with a five-over-par 285 team score and is tied for 10th place after 36 holes of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship in Hot Springs, Va.
The Yellow Jackets played the back nine at the 6,679-yard, par 70 Cascades Course one stroke under par, six shots better than they did Tuesday. Tech’s team score of 285 during the morning round was the sixth-best of the day, and it helped the Yellow Jackets gain two positions in the standings and draw four strokes closer to team leader California. The Bears, first-round leaders after a 1-under 279 Tuesday, posted a 289 Wednesday afternoon to maintain a one-shot lead at 8-over-par 568.
Kentucky stands one shot back after a 6-over 286 in the second round for a 36-hole total of 569. Brigham Young is in third place at 570, while Washington (282) and Pepperdine (4-under-par 276 Wednesday) are tied for fourth place at 571. Georgia State scored a level-par 280 Wednesday to move into a tie for sixth place at 572 with UCLA (283). TCU (292) and Arizona (281) are tied for eighth at 573.
Tech had a 36-hole total of 574, tied with Texas and top-ranked Florida. Following Thursday’s round, the 30-team field will be cut to the top 15 for the final round of the championship on Friday. The Jackets, Gators and Longhorns are paired together for the third round and will tee off from the No. 10 tee at 8:03 a.m. Thursday.
“You just keep plugging away,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler. “This deal is so far from over. This golf course will make it a long 36 holes (Thursday and Friday), and we’re just getting started. If you get five guys feeling pretty good about themselves the last 36 holes, you just never know what’s going to happen.”
Larsen, a freshman from Santa Barbara, Calif., who failed to count Tuesday after carding an 82, posted a 3-under-par score of 32 on the back nine Wednesday, including an eagle on the par-5 17th, and played an even-par front side save for one double-bogey. It was a complete reversal of the freshman’s opening round, which he finished by adding insult to injury after he inadvertently stepped on his ball while searching for it in the collar around the 18th green, incurring a one-stroke penalty.
“He made some putts and chipped it in on one hole,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler of Larsen’s round. “This is like a U.S. Open where you look at five and six-footers all day long. He made some of those today. He made one bad swing and doubled on six, which is a hard hole playing into the wind today. Sometimes you just have to get over a bad day and do the best you can to help the team the next day, and Kevin did a nice job of that today.”
Wongluekiet’s 36-hole total of 139 (1 under par) was tied for 10th individually, three shots off the lead of Jeff Hood of California (71 – 136), Chris Nallen of Arizona (67 – 136) and Matt Wells of Kentucky (68 – 136). The junior from Bradenton, Fla., played the front nine (Tech’s second nine Wednesday) in 34 strokes, with three birdies and two bogeys, and even-par 35 on the back. He also posted an eagle on the 17th hole.
“Chan’s played really well for two days and has not come close to making a double,” said Heppler. “When he gets it in a bad spot, he gets it out of the bad spot and keeps his losses to a minimum. He’s managed himself very well for two days. He’s put the ball in good spots almost all the way around.”
Wongluekiet concurred, saying “On courses like this, you need to know where your misses are going and where the short sides are. It took me a couple of years to learn that. What I can do the next couple of days is trust the wind where it’s blowing a little bit more. It seems to swirl, and a lot of players out here are having trouble with the wind.”
Nick Thompson shot 3-over-par 73 Wednesday, including an even-par 35 on the first nine, and the junior from Coral Springs, Fla., had a two-round total of 143, three shots over par. Freshman Roberto Castro and sophomore Mike Barbosa each posted 74s on Wednesday for the Yellow Jackets.
Clemson, the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, stumbled to a 10-over-par 290 Wednesday and is in 13th place at 575, one shot ahead of Purdue (577). Georgia, the nation’s No. 3 team, shot 22-over-par 302 Thursday, and is in 26th place, 19 shots off the lead. The Bulldogs are seven shots behind Penn State, which currently occupies the 15th position in the team standings.
Complete results and live scoring for the NCAA championship can be found at Golfstatresults.com.