By Sean Martin
STILLWATER, Okla. – Five things you need to know from the second round of the NCAA Championship.
1.) Yellow Jackets in the red: Georgia Tech is generally a straight-hitting team. That skill has helped the Yellow Jackets succeed at Karsten Creek, where double-bogeys can be found not far from the fairway.
“There is no OK spot out here to miss it,” said James White, who is in second individually after shooting 67-73. “You have to hit it where you want to hit it. That’s the only OK spot there is. This is just brutal. I’m extremely exhausted now.”
Georgia Tech leads the team competition at 3-under 573 (283-290), one shot ahead of UCLA. They’re the only two teams that are under par after 36 holes.
The Yellow Jackets, despite a list of alumni that includes David Duval, Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar and Bryce Molder, have never won the NCAA title.
Georgia Tech lost a playoff to Oklahoma State at the 2000 NCAA Championship. The Yellow Jackets had the nation’s top-ranked team that year, with a lineup that included Kuchar, Molder and Troy Matteson. Oklahoma State was carried by Charles Howell III, who won the individual title by eight strokes. That playoff loss was the closest Georgia Tech has come to a national title. Now the team is excelling on Oklahoma State’s home turf.
LSU’s John Peterson is the individual leader at 5-under 139 (74-65). His 65 is the competitive course record at Karsten Creek. Peterson was 6 over after his first nine holes of the NCAA Championship; he played his next 27 holes in 11 under.
2.) Cowboys near the cut: Host Oklahoma State will find itself just five shots inside the cut line when Thursday’s third round begins (the top eight teams after Thursday advance to match play). The Cowboys, the No. 1 team in the country, shot 292-293 on their home course for the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State’s problem on Wednesday? Big numbers.
The team had to count two triple bogeys and two double bogeys. It was 10 over par on those four holes and 5 under on the other 68.
“We just let our home course push us around too much,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike McGraw said.
Peter Uihlein shot 69 Wednesday, the only sub-par round by a Cowboy this week. Uihlein, the runner-up at last year’s NCAA Championship, is tied for sixth at 2-under 142 (73-69). He was 5 under through six holes on Wednesday.
3.) Jags stall: Oklahoma State isn’t the only pre-tournament favorite that’ll start Thursday’s play near the cut line. Defending champion Augusta State is in seventh after shooting consecutive 294s. Henrik Norlander shot 69 Wednesday, one day after firing 80. The Jaguars had to count three 75s Wednesday. Patrick Reed shot 69-75.
Four of the five starters from Augusta State’s title team are at Karsten Creek. The only player here that wasn’t at the Honors Course last year, Olle Bengtsson, helped keep the Jaguars’ score Wednesday from going any higher. Bengtsson, who shot 86 on Day 1, was 5 over after seven holes Wednesday, but played the final 11 holes in 2 under.
Ohio State and Texas A&M, the 2009 NCAA champions, are tied for eighth at 14 over par.
4.) Hard-luck Langley: Scott Langley, the defending NCAA champion, shot 86 Wednesday. That didn’t keep his Illinois teammates from posting the day’s only under-par score. The Illini shot 1-under 287 and are in third place at 2-over 578. Luke Guthrie led the team with a 69. He’s tied for third at 3-under 141. Guthrie is the only player in the country to win both his conference and regional titles.
Illinois has not made match play at the NCAA Championship since the tournament switched formats in 2009.
5.) Show some ID: Karsten Creek is doing a good job identifying the country’s top teams. Seven of the nine teams at T-8 or better are ranked in the top eight of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
The only team in the top eight in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings that isn’t in the top eight on the NCAA Championship leaderboard? No. 5 Florida (T-16).
***May 31, 2011***
Stillwater, Okla. - James White fired a 5-under-par 67 Tuesday to take the individual lead and lift Georgia Tech to a 3-stroke lead over UCLA following the first round of the NCAA Golf Championship.
The 4th-seeded Yellow Jackets posted their best-ever round at the 7,416-yard Karsten Creek Golf Course, a 5-under-par 283, counting a 1-under-par 71 from Paul Haley, an even-par 72 from Kyle Scott and a 1-over 73 from John-Tyler Griffin. Haley is tied for 10th place individually, Scott tied for 21st.
UCLA shot a 2-under 286 and is in second place, the only other team to shoot under par Tuesday. Alabama is in third at even-par 288, followed by 2009 national champion Texas A&M (1-over 289). Illinois and Ohio State are tied for fifth at 3-over 291, with host and top-seed Oklahoma State tied with Georgia at 4-over 292 in seventh place.
Two other Georgia schools round out the top 10 - defending champion Augusta State at 6-over 294 and Kennesaw State at 7-over 295.
"Our guys really drove the ball well today," said head coach Bruce Heppler. "They started solidly and played the last hole well. They did a good job of managing themselves and their emotions. We look forward to getting started again in the morning."
White kick-started his round Tuesday by getting four birdies in a five-hole stretch to finish the front nine, then recorded three more birdies on the back side, completing his best round since opening with a 62 at his home course at the United States Collegiate Championship in the fall. His best round at Karsten Creek in the fall Preview Classic was a 74.
"I hope I didn't use up all my birdies today," said White. "It was all I could ask for. My game plan was to give my best on every shot, no matter what, and keep the ball below the hole on the greens as much as possible. Everything went well, but things can turn South in a hurry on this golf course. I have to get rested and get ready for the first shot tomorrow."
Haley's 71 and Scott's 72 also were career bests on the course. Haley opened with two birdies and finished with one. Freshmen Richard Werenski eagled the first hole Tuesday, but wound up with a 76 and did not count.
Cameron Peck of Texas A&M is one shot back of White after firing a 68, while Augusta State's Patrick Reed and J.J. Spaun of San Diego State are tied for third with 69s.
Ohio State was the leader in the clubhouse after the morning wave, posting a 3-over 291. The afternoon wave scored better, with four of the higher-seeded teams surpassing the Buckeyes.