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Georgia and Kansas share 36-hole lead at USGA Men's Team Championship

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (Sept 14, 2010) – Georgia and Kansas, two teams which have been past bridesmaids but never brides in the USGA Men’s State Team Championship, share the 36-hole lead at 3-under-par 281 going into Thursday’s final round at Mayacama Golf Club.

Georgia, the runner-up in 2007 to host Texas, received a course-record 65 from 38-year-old David Noll Jr. of Dothan and a 74 from Adam Cooper, 26, of Columbus on the 6,726-yard, par-71 Jack Nicklaus design on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kansas played steady golf for a second consecutive day, getting a 1- under 70 from Charlie Stevens, 41, of Wichita and an even-par 71 from 51- year-old Bryan Norton of Mission Hills in the three-count-two format. Tyler Shelton had a non-scoring 76.

Georgia and Kansas are five strokes clear of Rhode Island, North Carolina and Florida.

Washington, which shared the first-round lead with Kansas, fell off with a 6-over 150 on Wednesday for a 36-hole total of 8-over 290.

Defending champion Pennsylvania sits six strokes back at 3-over 287, while host California is eight behind at 289.

In the race for individual medalist honors, Noll (74-65–139), has a one- shot lead over Norton. First-round co- leader Mike Ballo is two shots back after a 74, sharing third position with Stevens and Illinois’ Todd Mitchell (70).

For the second consecutive day, fog suspended play, this time for 45 minutes early in the morning. Because of that delay, six golfers representing three states had failed to complete their second round when darkness stopped play for the day at 7:37 p.m. PDT.

The continuation of round two and the start of the final round will commence at 6:50 a.m. PDT.

Noll, competing in his fifth consecutive Men’s State Team and a member of that 2007 runner-up squad, has steadied his game since posting a 6-over 42 over the outward nine on Tuesday. Since then, he is nine under par.

An early bogey at the 11th hole – his second of the round – didn’t affect Noll. He quickly rebounded with a birdie at No. 12, then knocked his 7-iron approach from 195 yards at the par-5 15th to 35 feet. He rolled in the long eagle putt from the fringe and quickly apologized to his fellow competitors for his sudden surge of good fortune.

“That was a little ridiculous,” Noll said of the eagle. “But it went in and it goes down as a 3.”

Birdies on Nos. 2, 6 and 7 on the outward nine gave Noll the competitive course record, one shot off the 18-hole championship mark held by three golfers. Even the potential of being given a pace- of-play warning didn’t seem to affect Noll’s focus.

“We were told … that we needed to hurry,” said Noll of the information the group received from USGA officials. “We sprinted the last four holes. Golf almost becomes secondary at that point, but … if [the USGA] tells you to move, they make the Rules and we’re going to have to do what they say.”

Georgia, bidding to join Minnesota and Pennsylvania with State Team titles in both the men’s and women’s competitions, would have held the outright lead going into the final round, but a three-putt bogey at the par-5 ninth by Cooper cost Georgia a precious stroke. Doug Hanzel of Savannah, who had a first-round 68, struggled to a non- scoring 77.

“It’s a long way between now and this time tomorrow,” said Noll, who watched his team lip out two putts at No. 18 in 2007 at The Club at Carlton Woods in suburban Houston to lose by one stroke to Texas. “We’ve got to play our best golf [on Thursday]. That’s all we can do.”

Kansas knows all about close calls. A year ago at the Country Club of St. Albans in suburban St. Louis, the team bolted out to a nice lead, thanks to a 64 by Jon Troutman. A poor second round in inclement conditions cost Kansas dearly, despite a strong final round that left the team three strokes behind Pennsylvania.

Despite having only Norton returning, Kansas came to Mayacama with some confidence. A good practice round on Monday left Norton, the 2003 U.S. Mid- Amateur runner-up, feeling good about the team’s chances.

“When you see your friends do well [last year], you start thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I never thought we could win.’ But now I think we can. We have good players in Kansas. And even with a different team this year, I knew if we came and played well, we had a chance to be there in the end.”

Norton, who shot a first-round 69, scrambled his way to a 71. He knocked his second shot into the pond at the par- 5 18th and still managed to make a par. A birdie at the par-4 eighth, his 17th hole of the day, kept him from going into the black.

“I had one of those days where it could have been a poor score,” said Norton, grateful that Stevens rallied from a two- over start to shoot in red figures. “I had to focus because I was making a lot of tough par saves. I was really proud of myself that I got something out of it because it really could have gotten away from me in the middle of the round.”

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Results For U.S. Men's State Team Championship
Place  PtsScores
1KSBryan NortonMission Hills, KS70069-71-68--208
2VAScott ShinglerHaymarket, VA50071-71-67--209
3ILTodd MitchellBloomington, IL40071-70-70--211
4CTMichael BalloStamford, CT40067-74-71--212
T5RIBobby LeopoldCranston, RI40072-71-70--213

View full results for U.S. Men's State Team Championship

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