WOODSTOCK, Ga. – UCLA got off to an impressive start, stumbled a bit at midstream, then put forth a solid finish.
The end result: The Bruins moved into the lead Monday after the second round of the Ping/Golfweek Preview at the Capital City Club Crabapple course.
With a 4-over-par 280, UCLA stands at 6-over 566, good for a one-stroke advantage over first-round leader UNLV, which came in with a 286.
Host team Georgia Tech shot a solid 282 and is tied for third at 9-over 569 with California. The Golden Bears equaled the tournament’s best round with an even-par 280.
“Our guys got off to a better start today, and that helped,” said Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler. “They have done a nice job competing all the way through the round. We had five solid scores today, which is very important to stay in the hunt. We have a great opportunity to compete tomorrow.”
Washington (282) and New Mexico (284) share fifth place at 11-over 571 in the 15-team field. Defending NCAA champion Texas (283) is next at 573, one stroke better than Texas A&M, which matched Cal’s 280 for best round.
San Diego State’s Tom Berry maintained his spot at the top of the individual race, posting a 1-under 69 to go with his opening 67 for a 4-under 136 on the par-70, 7,248-yard Crabapple layout, site of next spring’s NCAA Men’s Division I Championship.
With one of the day’s best rounds of 67, New Mexico’s Gavin Green moved into second place at 2-under 138, one shot in front of UCLA’s Pedro Figueiredo and Texas A&M’s Cameron Peck, who also posted a 67.
UCLA pulled away from the field early, going 6 under through eight holes and building a five-shot lead. But the four Bruin counters played holes 9, 10 and 11 in 6 over, before righting themselves and hanging on over the final seven holes.
“We got off to a hot start, and I was really pleased with that,” said UCLA coach Derek Freeman. “Then we missed a few drives and didn’t hit some good approach shots.
“We were definitely leaking oil, but the guys did a great job of snapping back and finishing nicely. If we can clean up our round a little bit in certain areas, I think we’ll have a good chance tomorrow. “The main thing is, we have put ourselves in position to accomplish something that we are trying to do here: win the golf tournament.”
In addition to Figueiredo’s 70, the Bruins counted 71s from Anton Arboleda and Lorens Chan and a 72 from Manav Shah. Matt Pinizzotto shot 73.
For the second consecutive day, Berry did not have a bogey on his scorecard. Unlike Day 1, however, he did have a double bogey. But the senior from England answered with three birdies.
After a birdie at the sixth hole, Berry hit his drive at the par-4 10th into the rough, caught a flier and sailed his shot over the green and wound up making 6. But he didn’t let it shake him as he came back with birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 and then saved par at 16 – normally a par 5, but playing to par 4 in the tournament – when he ran in a 12-foot putt.
“Apart from the 10th hole, it was a good, solid round,” Berry said. “I made some good saves on the back side for pars, and out here, par is always a good score.
“My long (iron) game carried me on the front side, and my short game came through for me on the back,” Berry said. “I gave myself a lot of chances and holed out well when I needed to, and that was the key.”
The average score for the 75-player field in the second round was 72.40, slightly lower than the 72.89 the first day. The toughest hole was the 498-yard, par-4 16th, which averaged 4.40.
The final 18 holes will be played Tuesday beginning at 8:30 a.m. on tees 1 and 10.