North Carolina State retains comfortable lead at Golfweek Conference Challenge

Courtesy of North Carolina State Athletics

North Carolina State retains comfortable lead at Golfweek Conference Challenge

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North Carolina State retains comfortable lead at Golfweek Conference Challenge

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – North Carolina State saw its lead drop on Monday at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, but the Wolfpack are still in control with one round to go.

The wind picked up Monday at the Cedar Rapids Country Club but it didn’t keep every team out of red numbers. North Carolina State fired a 2-under 286 to reach 16 under and retain the top spot. But their overnight lead of nine was cut to five after Iowa posted a 6-under 282 to move to 11 under.

San Francisco came in with the round of the day with a 7-under 281 to jump from fifth to third at 4 under. North-Carolina Wilmington sits in fourth at even par.

The Wolfpack is looking to earn its first victory of the season and of the head coaching career of Press McPhaul, a former Wolfpack player and assistant coach who’s in his first year as the lead man at North Carolina State after 11 years heading East Carolina and five doing so at Vanderbilt.

McPhaul is looking to build on the legendary 46-year career of Richard Sykes, who retired as North Carolina State’s head coach following the 2016-17 season.

A fifth at the opening Wolf Run Intercollegiate didn’t say a lot either way, but this could be a big early statement in McPhaul’s tenure.

The Wolfpack have a good shot at a sweep, too. Benjamin Shipp sits second in the individual race at 7 under after rounds of 68 and 69. Stephen Franken fell from the lead after a second-round 73 dropped him to 5 under. But he’s T-4 and just three back, certainly in contention for the individual title.

Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong, who at No. 22 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings from the 2016-17 college season was the highest-ranked player from last season in this field, holds the overall lead at 8 under.

Armstrong reached that position despite an opening bogey. The senior proceeded to birdie Nos. 7, 9, 10, 15, 17 and 18 to post a 67 and take the lead. Lipscomb overall sits in tie for sixth at 9 over.

Georgia’s Spencer Ralston sits third at 6 under. His Bulldogs are tied for 11th at 15 over.

Iowa will look to make up the deficit to North Carolina State on Tuesday and win this event for the third time (2009, ’15).

The Hawkeyes have been led by Alex Schaake (T-6, 4 under) but boast four players in the top 16 overall. Ryoto Furuya (T-11, 2 under), Matthew Walker (T-11, 2 under) and Sam Meuret (T-16, 1 under) are amongst that group as well.

North Carolina State is looking to win the Golfweek Conference Challenge for the first time after two runner-up finishes here. Along with Shipp and Franken, Easton Paxton (T-9, 3 under) is in the top 10.

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