SANDESTIN, Fla. – LaGrange College sophomore Cory Howard shot a bogey-free 68 on Monday for a two-day total of 137 that gave him the individual lead at the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational at The Raven Golf Club at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
“It’s a lot of pressure, to be honest,” Howard said of his lead. “You have some hard holes and some easy holes, and when you’re under par and everyone knows, it’s a bit more stressful.”
He hasn’t made it seem stressful over the first two rounds. A total of seven birdies and two bogeys has put Howard in the lead by three strokes heading into the final round.
“I’m just going to keep playing my game. If I win, great, but if I don’t, it is what it is,” Howard said. “I really want the team to do good, and I’ll just keep trying my best to make that happen.”
Alex Kapraun of University of St. Thomas sits in second after a 3-under 68 on Monday. Kapraun had an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys in his second round. His eagle came at the drivable 255-yard par 4.
“I hit 3-wood, and it kind of got stuck up in the wind a little bit and landed in the bunker,” Kapraun said. “Fortunately, I got to watch my opponent hit his sand shot first, and then I stepped up and put it in the hole.”
There is a three-way tie for third. Andrew Bateman of Methodist University, Drew Lynch of St. John’s (Minn.) and Eric Muslawski of Rhodes College are at 1-under 141.
Methodist University is in first place as a team with an 11-over 579 total. The Monarchs are two strokes ahead of St. John’s. LaGrange is in third place at 15-over 583. Texas at Tyler and Skidmore College sit fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We have to hit fairways and greens tomorrow, and try to keep the big numbers away,” said Methodist head coach Steve Conley. “The goal is always to win. And if we went on to win, with this being the national championship site, it would definitely give us some confidence.”
The Monarchs are looking for their second win of the fall season.
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On the women’s side, Mary Hardin-Baylor will take an eight-shot lead into the final round over 13-time national champion Methodist University at Baytowne Golf Club for the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational.
“We were close to putting four decent scores on the board today,” said sophomore Taylor O’Rear, who leads the team and the tournament with a two-day total of 5-over 149. “We’ve been putting a lot of hard work into this semester, and it’s starting to pay off. And it’s exciting now because we are actually playing like we can play.”
Mary Hardin-Baylor has three players – O’Rear, freshman Elizabeth Davis and junior Kelly Gonyea – in the top 5.
O’Rear will take a one-shot lead over Loretta Giovannettone of Methodist University and Olivia Lugar of Washington University-St. Louis into the final day. Davis and Gonyea sit in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
“I’m honestly not concerned where I finish. This week, our team’s motto has been, ‘play for each other,’ said O’Rear. “We’re just trying to make a pretty big individual sport into a true team sport, and that’s definitely been working.”
Washington University-St. Louis is in third place with a two-day total of 625. Centre College is in fourth place, and Illinois Wesleyan is in fifth.