Tide Still Leads

BIRMINGHAM -- Going into the final 18 holes of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate at Old Overton Club, the Alabama men's golf team is in first place. The Crimson Tide, ranked third in the nation, is going for its third first place finish in three tournaments this fall.

Alabama has a four-stroke lead over Texas Tech after the first day of the tournament on Monday. Teams played 36 holds Monday and the tournament concludes with the final 18 holes today.

The Crimson Tide posted similar scores in the first two rounds at the par-71 course. They had a two-shot lead over UAB after shooting a 270 as a team in the first round. Auburn, which was in last place after the first 18 holes, had the low score in the second round with a 271 and was followed by Alabama, Texas Tech and East Tennessee State with a 272.

"I am really proud of the way everyone shot on the back nine in the second round," said Alabama Coach Jay Seawell. "We played a great morning and were at even par on the front nine in the second round but, to the guys' credit, they came out and shot 12-under on the back nine. We know there are good teams behind us so we have to play well tomorrow. We have to take each shot one at a time and just do what we did today."

Four Alabama players finished the day among the top 13 after the two rounds. Joseph Sykora, a junior from Daphne, is tied for second place. He posted two rounds of 67 to finish eight-under par on the day. Sykora, playing in his first tournament of the fall, had an eagle on the par-five 16th hole in the first round. It was one of two eagles in the first round for Alabama. Gator Todd eagled the par-four 15th hole.

"I was able to stay real focused throughout the day," said Sykora. "It makes things easier when my teammates are behind me playing just as well as I am. We put ourselves in a position where we have a good chance to win."

Gator Todd and Michael Thompson finished five shots off the lead and tied for seventh at seven-under par. Todd carded a 64 in the first round, the second lowest first-round score. He added a par-71 in the next round. Thompson posted a 68 in the opening round and went one shot better with a 67 to finish the day. Thompson was second among the competitors with 13 birdies. Matthew Swan shot par in the first round and came out with a 67 to finish four-under and tied for 13th.

Will Griffin of Texas Tech has the overall lead with a 12-under par 130. He shot the best round of the day in the second round with a nine-under 62 to follow up a first round 68 score. His 62 ties the course tournament record. He made the turn in the second round at seven-under and finished the day as the only player with two eagles.

Five players are four shots back from the lead with an eight-under 134. Purdue's Peter Richardson, Rhys Davies of East Tennessee State, Zack Sucher of UAB and Georgia State's Mark Haastrup join Sykora in second place. Haastrup led after the first round with a 63.

Alabama and Texas Texas Tech are followed by UAB, which dropped one spot to third after the opening round. Texas is in fourth and Georgia State is in fifth. They are followed by BYU and Arizona. East Tennessee State and LSU are tied for eighth. Auburn, Tulsa and Purdue round out the team standings.

Purdue's Tom Oliver had the shot of the day when he sank a hole-in-one on the par three 185-yard No. 3 hole.

Mark Harrell was the fifth competitor for the Crimson Tide. He finished the first day tied for 47th at two-over par. He shot a 71-75--146.

If the Crimson Tide gets its third championship, that would be a single season school record.

Tee offs for the final round began Tuesday morning. The public is invited to watch play and there is no admission charge.

Former Alabama golf star Jerry Pate, who was winner of the United States Amateur and United States Open among his championships, is host of the tournament, one of the nation's most prestigious.

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