By Sean Martin
TOLEDO, Ohio (May 27, 2009) – Texas A&M’s Conrad Shindler “ran around like an idiot” when he made his first ace during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship. A day later, his team made a run up the leaderboard at Inverness.
The Aggies, led by Bronson Burgoon’s 4-under 67, shot a tournament-low 276 to move into third place at 6-over 574 after two rounds. Texas A&M’s round was a 22-shot improvement from its opening round.
“I think they felt like they left some out there,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said, “but they saw what could be done.
Shindler was the perfect example. His ace only helped improve upon a 75 that included two double bogeys. He was much steadier Wednesday, making four birdies and a lone bogey for a 68.
“Excluding the no-putt for the ace, I didn’t have a one-putt until 16 yesterday,” said Shindler, a semifinalist at the ‘08 Western Amateur. “I played better than I scored (in the first round). The putts started to drop today.”
The Aggies were one of five teams in the morning wave to break par Wednesday.
Oklahoma State has a five shot lead and is at even-par 568 after shooting 280. The Cowboys are five shots ahead of Georgia (285) and six ahead of Texas A&M, which started the round in 12th place. Arizona State is fourthand at 7-over par after a 3-under 281 Wednesday.
USC shot 281, a 24-shot improvement from its first round, while Arkansas shot 283, 14 shots better than the first round. Both teams improved their position before the third round, when the top eight teams will advance to match play.
The second round won’t finish until Thursday, though, because play was delayed 4 hours, 30 minutes by rain and lightning. The second round will resume at 6:45 a.m.
The individual champion will also be crowned after 54 holes.
Georgia’s Russell Henley (67) and North Carolina State’s Matt Hill (69) were tied for first at 4-under 138 when the morning wave completed play after 6 p.m. Burgoon was one shot back.
San Diego’s Alex Ching was 6 under for the tournament when play was called. He will have eight holes to play Thursday when the tournament resumes.
“(Henley’s) putter heard he was thinking about changing (last week), so I think it finally decided to cooperate,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said. “It didn’t want to get taken out of the bag.”
A large group of players were at 2 under including Arizona State’s No. 5 player, Scott Pinckney (67), and Washington’s Nick Taylor (70).
Wednesday’s delay had varying impacts on teams and players.
“I think (the delay) definitely worked to our advantage,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “When we went in, the wind on 4 and 5 was dead into us and 6 was going to be a crosswind. When we went back out ... it was still as can be.”
Hill was helped by the stoppage, as well. The horn blew after he made an unsightly bogey at No. 1, his 10th hole, after missing the green from 125 yards. Hill, who was tied for the lead after the first round, got back into first place after an eagle on No. 8. He hit his 4-iron second shot to 4 feet.
Henley had the easiest shot to return to – an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 8, which he made.
Two players who were contending for the individual title struggled out of the sand when play was resumed. Oklahoma State’s Morgan Hoffmann was 4 under for the day, including two eagles, when the horn blew while his ball was in the greenside bunker at No. 17. He left two shots in the bunker before getting up-and-down for double bogey.
Hoffmann, the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and co-champion at The Preview, is 1 under par for the event.
Pinckney was in the fairway at the par-5 eighth when play was stopped. When he got back on the course, he hit his second shot into a greenside bunker. He misjudged the sand and left his shot in the bunker, but got up-and-down for par.
Pinckney, a sophomore, has three top-10 finishes this year, including two in his past four events, but the rest of his finishes are outside the top 30.
His putter usually decides how he fares, he said.
“If I putt well, I’m going to win it tomorrow,” said Pinckney, No. 226 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
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Sean Martin is a Golfweek assistant editor. To reach him e-mail mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org.