Georgia Golf still alive

HOT SPRINGS, Va. - The third-ranked Georgia men's golf team had to work overtime at the NCAA Championships on Thursday, but its reward is one more day of competition.

Following the third round, the field was cut in half from 30 to 15. Georgia, Southern Cal and Purdue finished regulation tied for the 15th spot at 31-over 871, requiring a playoff between the three schools. The Bulldogs advanced with a 3-under total on five predetermined holes.

"I feel like we won something," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "It was a big sense of relief for all of us to make it through the playoff. That's a pressure-packed situation. I think our guys will learn a lot from having been through that, plus it will reinforce to them just how important every shot in a golf tournament is."

Freshman Chris Kirk made sure the Bulldogs advanced as he drilled a 45-foot putt on the 17th hole for an eagle. Kirk had bogeyed the hole in regulation just an hour earlier.

"When I hit it, I went right in the middle of the cup," Kirk said. "I couldn't believe that it went in. We all did what we had to do."

Kirk admitted the Bulldogs got momentum heading into the playoff from Kevin Kisner. The sophomore hit a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 during regulation to force the playoff. Assistant coach Jim Douglas had told Kisner what was needed as they came off the 17th green.

"We all thought we were out of it," Kirk said. "When Kevin made that putt, we were really fired up."

"I was nervous standing on the tee box," Kisner said. "But I figured it's just a game; it's not life or death. I just wanted to make sure I hit the putt solid enough to give it a chance. It had plenty of speed on it."

So the Bulldogs will enter the final day of competition in 15th place, 24 shots behind tourney leader UCLA. Georgia has a shot at a top-10 finish as it trails Texas, the current No. 10 team, by just eight strokes. The Bulldogs have not finished an event outside the top 10 this season.

Junior David Denham had the Bulldogs' low round of the day, carding a 2-under 68. Kisner bounced back from an 80 with an even-par 70, followed by Kirk at 2-over 72, freshman Brendon Todd at 4-over 74 and sophomore Richard Scott at 6-over 76.

Kisner is tied for 32nd at 6-over 216. UNLV's Ryan Moore is the leading individual at 9-under 201. Denham is 55th at 9-over 219, while Kirk is 81st at 11-over 221, Todd is 95th at 13-over 223 and Scott is 105th at 14-over 224.

The Bulldogs will tee off between 8 and 8:36 a.m. on Friday. Live scoring is available through golfstatlive.com.


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