NORMAN, Okla. (May 18, 2012) -- Every Husky scored birdie or better on the final hole of the day to highlight Friday's second round of the NCAA Norman Region in which Washington combined to shoot 7-under-par 281 and move into sole possession of first place.
The third-seeded Huskies are -9 (567) for the tournament and will take a four-shot lead into Saturday's final round at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. Washington had to overcome a seven-stroke advantage by first round leaders Texas and Florida State. Washington had to overcome a seven-stroke advantage by first round leaders Texas and Florida State.
"You hope every team can have at least a few days that will be talked about for years to come," wrote Husky Coach Matt Thurmond in his latest Road To Riviera entry. "Today's round was one of those days.
"The scores from the field increased with the surging winds and the course became firmer and faster with each mile per hour of breeze. In the toughest part of the day, the back nine, each of our guys shot par or better. The entire nine was certainly something to write home about, but the final hole is what will get the most attention."
UW was 6-under on the final hole with four birdies and an eagle from Chris Williams.
On the heels of the Huskies are the fourth-seeded Seminoles and top-seeded Longhorns. FSU is -5, while Texas is -4. Illinois is fourth at -1 and Georgia Tech is even for the tournament and fifth.
The top five teams and one individual from a non-advancing squad all move on after Saturday's final round to the NCAA Championship to be held at Los Angeles' Riviera Golf Club, May 29-June 1.
On a day in which there were many heroes for the Huskies, junior classmates Charlie Hughes and Williams stood out the most. The duo both shot 4-under 68 during the round.
Hughes' 68 was his lowest round of the season. He had struggled to find consistency all season, but was able to get in a groove right away on Friday. He birdied No. 2 and added three more before bogeying No. 14 and ending his day with a birdie on 18.
"The biggest story of the day was Charlie Hughes," wrote Thurmond. "We haven't seen a round like this from him for a while, but we knew it would come soon ... Chaz was awesome today and shot his best round of the year when it was most needed."
Hughes showed signs of turning things around on Thursday when he ended his round with back-to-back birdies on No.'s 17 and 18 after going the first 16 holes without a birdie. He is 6-under with just one bogey over his last 20 holes.
He is currently tied for seventh on the leaderboard at 2-under 142.
Williams, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and Hogan Award semifinalist, got off to a rough start with a bogey on No. 1, but bounced back quickly with birdies on No.'s 3 and 5. He notched one last bogey on No. 7 before birdying No.'s 8 and 10.
He finished the day off with an impressive eagle on the par-5 18th hole. Williams drained a 75-foot putt to score a three on the final hole.
"I walked with him all day. He got everything he could out of the round today," wrote Thurmond.
Williams, the No. 7 ranked player in the nation, was 4-under on the par-5 holes. He enters Saturday's final round tied for fifth at 3-under 141.
Surprisingly, Williams and Hughes are not even the top Husky on the leaderboard. That honor goes to freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan, who is tied for fourth at 4-under 140.
Pan took a circular route to shoot 71 on Friday. He stumbled out of the gates with bogey, double-bogey before gaining some traction with a birdie on No. 3. Pan would go on to bogey three more holes, but answered with a birdie on the next hole each time. He squeezed three more birdies in during the round to end up with a total of seven for the day.
Pan is three shots back of tournament leader Thomas Pieters of Illinois. Pieters sits at 7-under-par 137 and enjoys a one stroke lead over Florida State's Daniel Berger. Jonathan De Los Reye is third at -5.
Fourth among Huskies, but still among the top-15 golfers fighting for medalist honors is sophomore Trevor Simsby. Simsby carded a 74 and is even for the tournament with a 144. He is tied for 13th.
Simsby struggled to convert birdie opportunities before finally notching one on the 18th hole.
Senior Ty Chambers is tied for 50th after Day 2, but was a big contributor on Friday. His score of 75 may not have counted towards the team total, but he provided a nice insurance policy in case any of his teammates would have faltered down the stretch.
The highlight of Chambers' round came down the stretch when he birdied the final two holes of the day.
"Trevor and Ty really hung in there," wrote Thurmond. "I was worried their scores could creep up and that we would have to count a high score, but they finished like champions and shot 74 and 75."
Washington was not the only team to represent well for the strong Pac-12 Conference on Friday. Of the six regions, four are being led by Pac-12 schools after Day 2 action. USC leads in Ann Arbor, Mich., UCLA is atop the leaderboard in Bowling Green and California tops the Palo Alto region.
The Huskies will be paired with Florida State and Texas in Saturday's final round. The leaders will tee off from No. 1 starting at approximately 8:40 a.m. CT.
Despite the nice lead, Thurmond knows there is a lot of work left for his Huskies.
"We find ourselves in the lead, which is nice, but mostly insignificant when there is time left on the clock," he wrote. "Tomorrow we expect 25-35 mph winds with the toughest hole locations. It will be a battle.
"For today we were the best. Tomorrow we will try to do it again."