Craig's Cats charge into First Place

Kentucky head golf coach Brian Craig had stated all season long that his group of Wildcat golfers were just waiting for that strong effort that would help put UK over the top. <br><br> Better late then never, that strong effort arrived Friday, helping Kentucky charge from a tie for fourth place into the final round leader, Friday.

With the help of a rejuvenated lineup and a strong effort from Matt Wells, the Wildcats are the 36 hole leader; leading by two strokes over traditional golfing powerhouse, Oklahoma State.

"We got off to an extremely fast start on the front nine today," said Kentucky coach Brian Craig. "We came out playing with confidence and poise."

For the Cats, the day was particularly sweet given the hurdles that the team had to overcome in order to achieve such greatness, Friday.

Without the help of All-SEC golfer Matt Kohn, Kentucky came out of the gates fast, only to watch it come awash after a two hour rain delay made them come back in the clubhouse.

"The wind started to pick up and then we had the rain delay," Craig said. "When we hit the back nine it was much more difficult. We still hung in there and played very well only giving up a few shots here and there."

The wait turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, as the Cats did not waver in the wet conditions. In fact, when the dust settled Friday, Brian Craig's Cats were the lone team to shoot under par as a group, scoring 13 shots better then their performance yesterday and five shots better then the second best performance of the day.

For Craig it was a bittersweet moment for a team that has been playing with something to prove after many considered last year's run to the NCAA Championships as a fluke.

Friday was a big step towards proving those critics wrong, as Kentucky used its second team to destroy the competition.

John Holmes and Brandon Waldrop both carded 2 under, 70's on the day. The junior from Campbellsville showed flashes of returning to his old form as he birdied three holes on the front and dropping only one stroke at 16.

Waldrop continued his hot streak, as well, taking the 36 hole individual lead into Saturday. The junior from St.Xavier in Louisville birdied five holes and bogeyed three in taking a two shot lead into the weekend.

The most important scores came from Matt Wells and Mark Blakefield, respectively.

Wells, whom has handled the pressure of having to replace Kohn in the lineup, added another solid day in the Regionals. The junior from North Carolina posted a 72, birdie-ing his final hole of the day to move to even par. He is now 4 over for the tournament and 8 strokes behind Waldrop.

Blakefield shot a one over, 73.

"Overall, I feel pretty good about getting through the circumstances, the stage and the golf course," Craig said. "I think 285 will prove to be an exceptional round of golf especially considering the weather conditions. I'm real happy with the guys. They deserve this and have worked hard for it."

Kentucky returns to action tomorrow, vying for their first ever NCAA Regional Championship. Stay tuned to Inside Kentucky for the latest news and stats, as the Cats attempt to make history.

Kentucky Scores
1 Brandon Waldrop – 70-70=140 T3 John Holmes – 73-70=143 T19 Matt Wells – 76-72=148 T42 Mark Blakefield – 79-73=152 T92 Tyler Wilson – 81-77=158

Top Five Individuals
1 Brandon Waldrop (Kentucky) 70-70=140 2 Jason Hartwick (Texas) 69-73=142 3 John Holmes (Kentucky) 73-70=143 Andrew Parr (Texas A&M) 69-74=143 Casey Wittenberg (Oklahoma State) 69-74=143

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