OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – San Diego’s Alex Ching is at it again. The sophomore seems to save his best golf for the NCAA Championship. Ching, the 36-hole co-leader last year at Inverness, is in that position again this year. He shot 6-under 66 Wednesday and was at 9-under 135. Ching’s 66 tied The Honors Course’s competitive course record.
“He’s the type of kid that feels he’s as good as anyone else in the country,” San Diego head coach Tim Mickelson said. “It takes the type of field that’s here for him to sit back and say, ‘If this kid is shooting 4 under, there’s no reason why I can’t shoot 4 under. He’s able to gauge what level he should be at.”
Augusta State’s Henrik Norlander and Peter Uihlein were at 7-under 137. Illinois’ Scott Langley was 7 under par for the tournament with one hole remaining in the second round.
Ching shot 76 in the final round last year at Inverness to tie for 13th. When asked what he learned from last year’s experience, Ching said, “I have those nerves every time I get up to that first tee at every tournament, but I think this time I’ll be a little bit more relaxed.”
Ching has played well this spring, posting four top-fives, including a victory at the Mardi Gras Invitational. His 64 in that event tied the competitive course record at TPC Louisiana, site of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic.
Ching hasn’t been able to replicate his NCAA Championship success on a regular basis during the regular season, though. He’s been ranked outside the top 100 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings in each of his first two seasons.
When Mickelson was asked what he could do to elicit Ching’s best golf more often, Mickelson said, “Trust me, I’m going to spend the next two years trying to figure out that magic potion to make it happen. But it’s the simple matter of fact that you can’t do that.
“You can’t get my brother (Phil Mickelson) up for 25 straight events a year to play his highest level. You can’t get Tiger Woods to do that. But what do you want them to do? You want them to perform when it really matters.”
Ching led San Diego’s second-round charge at The Honors Course. The Toreros shot 282, 12 shots better than their opening round. They improved from 16th to fifth.
Gunner Wiebe was the only other Torero under par Wednesday, shooting 66 despite bogeys on his final two holes. Ching was 7 under through 11 holes, but was 1 over on his final seven holes.
Both Ching and Wiebe have played in PGA Tour events. Ching competed in the 2008 Sony Open on the PGA Tour, shooting consecutive 72s. Wiebe, son of former PGA Tour player Mark Wiebe, played in this year’s Farmers Insurance Open after winning a one-spot amateur qualifier. Wiebe shot 73-78 at Torrey Pines.
“I think it definitely helps, having that experience,” Mickelson said.