Team leader: San Diego State, 12-under 556 (278-278))
Individual leader: Alex Moore, Oregon State, 7-under 135 (66-69)
In position: 2. Arizona, 7-under 561. 3. Texas A&M, 5-under 563). 4. Pepperdine, 4-under 564. 5. California and Washington (3-under 865).
Chasing (still work to do): 7. Texas Tech, 1-under 569. 8. Oregon State, 1-over 569. 9. Liberty, 4-over 572.
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Wild day for the Aztecs: San Diego State remained on top of the leaderboard with its second consecutive 6-under 278, but the ride to the top Friday was anything but smooth.
“We had three balls in the water at No. 4 and were 5 over after that hole and in eighth or ninth place,” said Aztec coach Ryan Donovan. “And we finished with three bogeys at the 18th. But after No 4 the guys really composed themselves and caught fire on the back nine over those first eight holes. I was really proud of the way they battled back.”
J.J. Spaun (69) and Alex Kang (70) shot 32 on the back side while Johan Carlsson (69) had a 33 and Todd Baek (70) a 35. The foursome combined for 17 birdies on holes 10-17.
“It was kind of a Jekyll and Hyde kind of round,” Donovan said. “But I like where we stand going into tomorrow’s final round. We just need to keep staying patient and doing what we’re doing best.”
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How ‘bout those ‘Cats? Six weeks ago it appeared Arizona might not qualify for an NCAA postseason invitation with its under .500 overall record. It would have been very heartbreaking, considering the Wildcats were hosting one of the six regional tournaments.
But Arizona rallied, finished second at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic and seventh in the Pac-10 Championship to finish over .500 and then gained that invite to the regional at the Omni Tucson National Resort.
The Wildcats are making the most of it and with one round to play are in solid position to keep their season going by finishing among the top five teams here and advancing to the May 31-June 5 NCAA Finals at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
“We struggled a little bit at times, but hung in there,” said Arizona coach Rick LaRose. “And we finished like champs today. Overall it was a very gritty performance from the Wildcats today. I’m really proud of these guys.”
Jonathan Kahn had a 68, Juan Pablo Hernandez a 69, Tarquin MacManus, who was 3 over at the turn, a 71 and Stefan Cox a 72. More importantly, the four counters notched eight birdies against three bogeys to play the back side in 5 under.
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Hanging on: Alex Moore came back to the field when he made double bogey on his final hole (No. 9), but still managed to cling to a one-shot lead in the individual standings.
Matt Hansen of UC-Davis followed up his first-round leading 7-under 64 with a 1-over 72 and stands second at 136, one stroke better than Texas A&M’s Cameron Peck, who is in with 70-67.
Moore, a junior, had eight birdies and a pair of bogeys to go with his closing double.
“I played okay today,” Moore said. “My short game really kept me in it. Except for that last hole, it was a pretty good day. I just tried to make as many birdies as I could. I really focused on holes 7, 9 and 18 because those are the most difficult holes in my opinion. Then I just let the other holes take care of themselves.”
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Short shots: Talk about turning things around. That would be Texas A&M’s Conrad Shindler. After an uncharacteristic 10-over 81 on Thursday, Shindler came back with an impressive 3-under 68. He had three birdies, three bogeys and an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. “Golf is such a crazy game,” laughed Shindler after his round. . . . Most people have heard of Anthony Kim the PGA Tour player. Then there’s another Anthony Kim, also from California and also competing this week on a different level. This one is a freshman at Army and is playing in the NCAA regional in Tucson. Asked which teammate at West Point is the best dressed, Kim said, “That’s a hard one because I haven’t seen them in civilian clothes very much”. . . . Speaking of West Point, junior Ethan Johnson lists his favorite class as “Unconventional Warfare.” Wonder if he means what takes place on the golf course? . . . . The average first-round score of 72.87 dropped to 72.49 in the second round under calm, sunny skies at the par-71 Omni Tucson National Resort. There were 22 players shooting under par on day two with Pepperdine’s Josh Anderson posting the low round at 6-under 65. Going into the final round 19 players stand under par with five others at even. Of the 11 eagles made over two days, seven came in the second round.