Top team: USC, 7-under 561
Top individual: Julien Brun (TCU), Albin Choi (North Carolina State), 7-under 135
In position: T2. Oregon, Kent State, TCU (562). 5. Virginia (568)
Chasing: 6. Notre Dame (569), 7. North Carolina State (572)
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MAKING MOVES: USC clawed its way up the leaderboard on Day 2 of the NCAA Central Regional. Going into the second round, the Trojans were in sixth position, but found themselves with a one-stroke lead after firing 12-under 272. No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin college rankings, USC is the highest-ranked team in the field.
All members of the USC squad shot under par, with sophomore Jeffrey Kang’s 4-under 67 leading the Trojans’ second-day charge. After finishing 4 over in Round 1, Kang carded six birdies and just two bogeys to improve by eight strokes in Round 2 and move up the individual leaderboard from T-42 to T-19.
Freshman Anthony Paolucci kicked off his round with an eagle at the par-5 first hole and a birdie on the par-4 second. His flawless front nine saw one more birdie, but he struggled a bit on the back nine, carding four bogeys. He managed to come in at 2-under 69 and his 6 under tournament total, which has him in a share of third, is USC’s lowest score.
USC’s lead isn’t too cushy, though. The Trojans have three teams – Oregon, Kent State and TCU – right on their back, just one stroke off the pace.
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CLOSING IN: Oregon, No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, found itself in better position in Round 2. After finishing fifth in the first round, Oregon’s 10-under 274 on Friday bumped it up into a share of second. The Ducks, with a tournament total of 6-under 562, improved by 14 strokes over Thursday.
Senior Daniel Miernicki’s 6-under 65 guided Oregon to a higher perch atop the leaderboard. Miernicki authored a round that included eight birdies and put him in a share of third among individuals, at 6 under for the tournament.
Freshman Jonathan Woo fired a 5-under 66 to move to T-7 at 4 under for the tournament. He’s followed by Eugene Wong, who followed up his first-round 72 with a 2-under 69.
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SHORT SHOTS: North Carolina State sophomore Albin Choi, who won the Bridgestone Collegiate in the fall, found himself tied for first with TCU’s Julien Brun. Choi’s second-round 5-under 66 included two consecutive eagles and five birdies. . . Virgina senior Ben Kohles fired a second-round, 6-under 65 to move into a share of third place. He started off the second round with three consecutive bogeys. . . . TCU, which seemed poised to leave everyone else in the dust after finishing with an eight-stroke lead in the first round, finished the second round tied for second, one stroke off the lead. . . . From the way things are looking, Oklahoma State will break its 65-year streak of competing in the championship. The Cowboys, at 5 over for the tournament, are in eighth place.