Auburn Regional: Kennesaw St.'s Burton goes low
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Team leader: Alabama (5-under 571)
Individual leader: Kelby Burton, Kennesaw State, and Cory Whitsett, Alabama, (4-under 140)
In position: 2. Auburn (586), 3. Kennesaw State (588), 4. Virginia Tech (592), T-5. Texas (593), T-5. BYU (593).
Chasing: 7. North Carolina-Greensboro (594), 8. Colorado (595), 9. New Mexico (597), 10. Louisville (602), 11. San Houston State (603).
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It’s a team game
Kennesaw State’s Kelby Burton shot a 5-under 67 at the Auburn University Club on Friday. He even got to the point where he was 6 under through 13 holes, but he really wasn’t concerned about his own round. He had his team on his mind.
“That’s (the team) what kind of kept me to keep going and going into red numbers. . . . I just tried to stay in the moment,” Burton said.
He took every hole and every shot one at a time, which has led the junior, who is making his first appearance at a regional, to be tied for the lead with Alabama’s Cory Whitsett at 4 under heading into the final round of the NCAA Auburn (Ala.) Regional.
With his 67, Burton ties the Kennesaw State 18-hole scoring record on a par-72 golf course.
The Owls, 39th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, made the jump to third place on the leaderboard after finishing in a tie for fifth on Thursday.
This puts Kennesaw State five shots inside the top 5, which is needed if the team wants to advance to its first NCAA Championship since 2011.
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Hokies bounce back
Virginia Tech, the second-seed in the Auburn Regional, finished its second round with a 3-over 291 to jump from 13th to fourth place on the team leaderboard.
“We kept the ball in play better,” head coach Jay Hardwick said.
The Hokies leaned on their No. 1 player Scott Vincent to help round the team back into form at the regional. He shot a 2-under 70 and trails co-leaders Kelby Burton and Cory Whitsett by three strokes. Junior Trevor Cone’s even-par 72 also helped with the low number.
“They want to play good as a team first and then play good individually second,” Hardwick added. “When you have that kind of mentality it lends to have some kind of success and we’ve been fortunate enough to be there (to win) a few times.”
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Fight to the finish
Freshman Beau Hossler has come into form the last few tournaments for Texas, and this week proved his hard work is paying off.
In his first 27 competitive rounds with the Longhorns he averaged a 72.3 stroke average, but in his last eight competitive rounds he has averaged a 70.6.
It hasn’t come easy though, especially at Auburn.
In the first two rounds at the Auburn University Club, Hossler has started off with three bogeys in his first six holes.
With no explanation for the poor start, Hossler then has turned it around in the middle of the rounds. On Nos. 8-18 in the first two rounds, the 54th-ranked player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, is 7 under.
“I really like the back nine,” Hossler said. “It sets up really well for me. I have a good game plan heading into the back nine and take it one shot at a time.”
But behind Hossler’s success, the Longhorns have managed to drop from second place into a tie for fifth after a 12-over 300 Friday.
“I think we really need to realize how tough this golf course is and realize there are legitimately only six really good birdie opportunities out there and we need to make par on the really hard holes,” Hossler said. “We’re not in the situation we want to be in, but we’ve been here before. . . . We haven’t played our best, but with the work we’ve put in, were going to be just fine.”
Head coach John Fields echoed Hossler’s statement: “We’re in a position where if we have a good day we can finish well here. . . . But for us a good round tomorrow is what were focusing on.”
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Alabama shot 4-under 284 during Friday’s second round and leads by 15 shots. All five players are in the top 25 on the individual leaderboard. . . . Teams 7-9 on the leaderboard are within four shots of the fifth are final qualifying spot. . . . Playing as an individual Marco Iten of Austin Peay State shot 2-under 70 in the second round and sits in third place after a two-day total of 3-under 141. The top individual not on a team in the top 5 will advance to the NCAA Championship after the final round.