ATHENS, Ga. (May 18, 2012) -- Alabama's top-seeded men's golf team kept its foot on the gas in second-round action at the NCAA Athens Regional with an 8-under-par round of 276 to extend its lead to 12 shots on the par-71, 7,253-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
"I was really proud of the guys today, probably more proud than I was yesterday," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "The field showed that you could put a low number on the golf course yesterday. Today the wind blew and it was much more difficult. The round we put together today, especially the last 12 holes - I was very impressed with our guys today."
A trio of Crimson Tide individuals has blistered the top of the leader board with sophomore Bobby Wyatt holding the second-round lead at 9-under 133. True freshman and SEC Player of the Year Justin Thomas is second at 8-under 134 while Cory Whitsett is in fifth at 5-under 137.
The Tide are 23-under-par 545 after 36 holes of play and enter Saturday's final round with a 12-shot lead on second-place East Carolina (-11, 557) and a 30-shot advantage over fifth-place New Mexico (+7, 575). The top-five teams at the end of three rounds will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Second-seeded North Florida is in third position after a 3-over 291 left them at 6-under 562. Host Georgia is in fourth place at even-par 568 after shooting 4-over 288 on Friday. North Carolina-Wilmington is on the outside looking in on qualifying at 9-over 577 with Houston, Long Beach State and Wake Forest tied for seventh at 578.
Wyatt, who began the round in a tie for second place, carded two birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 33. The Mobile, Ala., native then made bogey at No. 11 but finished strong with a birdie on the 14th and back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes. After his 67 on Friday, Wyatt now has 14 rounds at par or better this season and 11 rounds in the 60s (out of 29 total rounds).
Thomas, from Goshen, Ky., got off to a slow start with bogeys on the first and fourth holes before erupting with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round and then finished with another birdie on the par-5 17th. The second-round 67 was his 22 round (out of 32) this season at par or better and his 14th round in the 60s.
Whitsett, a native of Houston, Texas, was steady throughout his round with three birdies, one bogey and 14 pars for a 69. He shot 68 in the opening round at the UGA Golf Course.
Junior Scott Strohmeyer was the Tide fourth score on Friday with a 2-over 73 and is tied for 26th at 144. Senior Hunter Hamrick, who shot 68 in round one, struggled in the second round with a 77 and is tied for 30th at 3-over 145.
In all, the Crimson Tide has made an astounding 42 birdies in the first two rounds while counting only 15 bogeys and nothing worse. A top-five finish tomorrow will ensure the Crimson Tide a trip to the NCAA Championships and Seawell is looking for more of the same out of his team.
"It is really easy to get out of what you do when you have a lead and do something different," Seawell said. "Our job all year is to the same thing every day, and we have done a good job of that. I expect us to come out and be the best we can be tomorrow and that is all I care about."
Alabama is scheduled to tee off at 7:40 a.m. (CDT) on Saturday in the final round of the NCAA Athens Regional. The Crimson Tide will be playing with North Florida and East Carolina.