Tide Golf Hovers Near NCAA Top

Alabama golf had one eye on the tops of the trees in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday. That's because the Crimson Tide finished its second round at the NCAA Tournament early and then waited to see how the afternoon flight fared in what was expected to be windy conditions.

Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said, "We are fine where we are right now. We just have to have a good day tomorrow. The golf course is going to get harder for the second flight this afternoon and the wind will probably blow a little more, so I think we are in a pretty good spot."

Thursday play is exceedingly important. In this year's NCAA Championship format, the field will be cut to only eight teams after the completion of 54 holes of play on Thursday. Then the tournament begins anew with those eight in match play. The championship finals are Sunday. Seawell said, "We just need to come out and play great. It is the national championship and the last stroke-play round of the year and we need to have a great round to solidify our chances of playing in the match play that begins on Friday."

The third-seeded Crimson Tide shot a 4-over-par 292 in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Wednesday at the par-72, 7,416-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club.

The Crimson Tide is 4-over par (580) after 36 holes of stroke play and hovering around the top five with the afternoon flight still on the course.

"I don't think we had our best today," Seawell said following Wednesday's round. "To get out of here at 4-over is not bad on a day when you don't have your best. We made a lot of bogeys today, which means we are just a little bit off. We didn't putt it like we would have wanted to, and our ball striking wasn't the best."

Although teams were on the course, it appeared likely that Georgia Tech will go into the final round of stroke play with the lead at 3-under-par 573 with UCLA one-shot back at 574. Illinois is in third at 2-over 578.

True freshman Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide in round two with a 1-under-par 71. He recorded birdies on three of his final four holes to move into the top 20 at even-par 144.

"It was a wild round," Whitsett said walking off the 18th green. "I hit it great the first eight holes and then started hitting it all over the place for five holes, and I wasn't making any putts, which usually isn't a good combination. I finally made a couple of putts on the 15th and 16th and then the birdie on 18 was a good way to finish."

Junior Bud Cauley carded a 1-over-par 73 on Wednesday with a bogey on the challenging 17th hole. He followed with an impressive par on the 18th that included a winding 100-foot putt from the back of the green over a mound and down the hill to within three feet. Cauley enters round three at 1-under-par 143, four shots off the lead of John Peterson of LSU, who shot a course-record 65 on Wednesday.

Whitsett and Cauley combined to shoot 4-under par over the final five holes with Cauley recording birdies on No. 14 and No. 16 while Whitsett birdied the 15th, 16th and 18th.

"I was proud of how he finished with three birdies in his last four holes, which is great," Seawell said. "I thought we closed well as a team. Bud (Cauley) had a couple of birdies coming in and Cory had three. Cory really led us today. It didn't seem like we had anyone under par all day long, so for him to get all the way back under par really helped."

Hunter Hamrick and Bobby Wyatt both recorded 2-over-par 74s in the second round to count towards the Tide's 4-over-par total. Hamrick is 1-over 145 for the tournament and Wyatt is 4-over 148. Freshman Trey Mullinax was the Tide's drop score on Wednesday at 7-over 79.

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