BATON ROUGE – Led by a team-low 1-under par 71 by sophomore Curtis Thompson in Friday’s second round at the University Club, the 17th-ranked and No. 3-seeded LSU men’s golf team finds itself on the cusp of NCAA Championships qualification after wrapping up the day in a tie for fifth place overall at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
The top five teams after three rounds at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional will qualify for the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships being held May 27-June 2 at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.
Thompson teamed with fellow sophomore Stewart Jolly to pace the Tigers on a steamy Friday afternoon at the University Club as LSU moved up two spots in the team standings into a tie for fifth place with No. 9 seed Coastal Carolina with matching 36-hole scores of 21-over par 597. The Tigers posted a team score of 6-over 294 in the second round to position themselves for NCAA qualification.
The 10th-ranked and No. 2-seeded Florida Gators continue to lead the championship with a 36-hole score of 2-over par 578, followed by second-ranked and No. 1-seeded Alabama in second place at 10-over par 586.
The Tigers will tee off in Saturday’s final round in a tight four-way battle with No. 5 seed Houston, No. 8 seed South Alabama and No. 9 seed Coastal Carolina for three spots into the NCAA Championships as each squad is within four shots of one another with just 18 holes to play. South Alabama sits in third place with a two-day total of 17-over 593, followed by Houston in fourth place at 20-over 596 and LSU and Coastal Carolina in a tie for fifth place overall at 21-over 597 for the regional championship.
The No. 7-seeded Tennessee Volunteers are also poised for a strong finish to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional as they will tee off Saturday morning seven shots out of fifth place in seventh place at 28-over 604.
“We were able to finish the round today,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead following the round. “We’re certainly better than the way we played yesterday. I think today was more representative of a typical round for our team on a hard golf course. We were certainly better than yesterday, but not as good as we need to be. We look forward to getting back out here for another round tomorrow.
“This thing’s not over. It’s the bottom of the sixth inning and we have three more innings to play, one more round, to come out here and compete and see how it goes.”
Thompson fired a 1-under 71 and Jolly carded a 1-over 73 to lead the Tigers into the top five of the team standings on another difficult day of scoring at the University Club during Friday’s second round.
Thompson raced out to a fast start on his round with back-to-back birdies on his first two holes of the day at the par-four 10th and par-five 11th holes to quickly drop to 2-under par. He then made the turn at even-par in his round while trading shots with birdies at the par-three 16th and par-five 17th holes along with bogeys at the par-three 13th and par-four 15th holes and a double bogey at the par-four 18th hole.
He dipped back into red figures on the front nine with a birdie at the par-four second hole before again trading shots with a bogey at the par-four seventh hole and a birdie at the par-four ninth hole to wrap up the day with a team-low score of 1-under par 71 in 18 holes. That performance vaulted Thompson into a tie for seventh place on the leaderboard with a 36-hole score of 2-over 146.
A sophomore from Coral Springs, Fla., Thompson has his sights set on a first top-10 finish in NCAA Regional competition in his second career regional appearance as an LSU Tiger.
“I played well today. I putted a lot better than yesterday,” Thompson said. “I scrambled a little bit out there, but worked through it and made a few more birdies. It was all about getting the putts to fall. I made just one birdie yesterday, and today I made six. We certainly played better today. We’ll be ready to come back out here and play again tomorrow.”
After teeing off Friday morning in a tie for 32nd place on the leaderboard, Jolly’s performance moved him into the Top 20 of the standings into a tie for 18th place overall with a 1-over 73 in the second round and a 5-over 149 in two days of action at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Jolly finds himself just three shots out of the Top 10 heading into Saturday’s final round.
Jolly was steady throughout, carding a pair of birdies at the par-three eighth and par-five 11th holes along with a double bogey at No. 6 and a bogey at No. 12 en route to a 1-over par 73 for the afternoon.
Sophomore Myles Lewis and freshman Zach Wright have matched one another shot for shot at this year’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional while posting matching rounds of 4-over par 76 on Thursday and 3-over par 75 for Friday to tie one another for 27th place on the individual leaderboard at 7-over par 151 for the championship.
Junior All-SEC performer Andrew Presley rebounded from his 13-over 85 in the first round with a 4-over 76 in the second round to finish the day in a tie for 65th place at 17-over 161 for 36 holes.
One look at the top of the leaderboard tells the story of Florida’s ascent to the top of the team standings after two rounds as All-America candidate TJ Vogel has fired rounds of 2-under 70 and 1-under 71 for a two-day total of 3-under par 141. Vogel owns a one-shot lead over Gator teammate Tyler McCumber (142) and a two-shot lead over teammate Eric Banks (141) in the race for medalist honors.
Alabama’s Justin Thomas is also tied with Banks for third place at 1-under par 143 for the championship, while Crimson Tide teammate Justin Thomas and Northwestern’s Nicholas Losole follow in a tie for fifth place for the weekend at 1-over par 145 heading into Saturday’s final round at the University Club.
Losole is currently positioned to earn an NCAA Championships berth as an individual as the top individual finisher not among the top five teams will earn the right to compete at Atlanta’s Capital City Club in two weeks.
The Tigers are paired with Houston and Coastal Carolina with Saturday’s final round as they will tee off from the front nine beginning at 7:50 a.m. CT. Golfstat provide live scoring of the final round at www.golfstat.com. Fans can also receive live updates of the Tigers competing at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional by following @LSUMensGolf on Twitter.
NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL – SECOND ROUND RESULTS
TEAM SCORES (Par 576)
1. Florida 286-292 – 578 +2; 2. Alabama 296-290 – 586 +10; 3. South Alabama 296-297 – 593 +17; 4. Houston 300-296 – 596 +20; T5. LSU 303-294 – 597 +21; T5. Coastal Carolina 302-295 – 597 +21; 7. Tennessee 300-304 – 604 +28; 8. Northwestern 303-304 – 607 +31; 9. UAB 308-300 – 608 +32; 10. Mississippi State 310-302 – 612 +36; 11. Wichita State 304-309 – 613 +37; 12. Southeastern Louisiana 308-309 – 617 +41; 13. Houston Baptist 313-311 – 624 +48.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (Par 144)
1. TJ Vogel, Florida, 70-71 – 141 -3; 2. Tyler McCumber, Florida, 70-72 – 142 -2; T3. Eric Banks, Florida, 72-71 – 143 -1; T3. Scott Strohmeyer, Alabama, 70-73 – 143 -1; T5. Nicholas Losole, Northwestern, 73-72 – 145 +1; T5. Justin Thomas, Alabama, 73-72 – 145 +1; T7. Curtis Thompson, LSU, 75-71 – 146 +2; T7. Oliver Goss, Tennessee, 73-73 – 146 +2; T7. Tyler Klava, South Alabama, 76-70 – 146 +2; T7. Curtis Reed, Houston, 71-75 – 146 +2.