Chris DeForest shot a one-under par 70 in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
May 27, 2009
Toledo, Ohio -
"The course was there for the taking today, but we didn't show up with as much ammunition as we needed to," said Illinois head coach Mike Small summing up his team's second round at the NCAA Championship.
As a team, the Fighting Illini shot eight shots better than they did in the first round, but that was the norm among those teams in the first wave on Wednesday. The round was halted for four hours and 27 minutes because of heavy rain and lightning. The first group among the second set of teams teed off beginning at 4:53 pm and not all the rounds were complete. Competitors still needing to finish the second round will resume play at 6:45 am EDT Thursday with the third round scheduled to begin at approximately 10 am
Illinois shot seven-over par 291 putting the Illini at +22 for the tournament. To put the score in perspective, of the 15 teams who completed rounds (who were the top half of the seeded teams heading into the tournament), five shot under par for the day and Illinois ranks 11th overall of those teams that completed rounds Tuesday.
The top 15 teams after the second round will be in the first wave of teams to tee off in the third and final round Thursday. The second 15 teams will tee off later in the day. At the end of the third round, the individual champion will be crowned and the top eight teams will advance to Match Play to determine the team title.
Much like Tuesday, Illinois had one rabbit in front of the pack, but no one to back him up. Sophomore Chris DeForest set a strong early pace with four birdies in his first seven holes, including a couple of chip-ins. DeForest fired a one-under par 70 for his round, but was the only Illinois player at even par or better.
Junior Zach Barlow started strong with two birdies in his first three holes, stroking a 20-foot putt on the 10th and holing a chip shot from the bunker on the par three 12th. But Barlow managed one more birdie in his round of three-over par 74.
Sophomore Scott Langley entered the day in a three-way tie for the individual lead after an opening round 69. Langley struggled out of the gates, playing his first five holes at +3, but played even par from there for a second-round 74. At +1 for the tournament, Langley is in a tie for 19th, five strokes out of the lead.
The other two Illini improved their rounds from Tuesday, but not enough for the team to make a significant jump. Junior Matt Hoffman improved four strokes for a two-over par 73 after amassing 14 pars and one birdie. Freshman Luke Guthrie shot a second-round 75, one stroke better than his opening 18 holes.
Inverness is known for its narrow fairways, sloping greens and thick rough, making hitting the ball straight at a premium.
"We have to hit more fairways and be more confident on the greens," Small said. "You look at the teams we played with today, they hit some fairways. It's hard to attack some of these pins when you are playing out of this deep thick rough all the time."
Indeed one of Illinois' playing partners, Texas A&M, made the biggest statement of the day with a second-round team score of eight-under par 276, the best round of the day. The Aggies ranked third of those teams that finished their rounds at +6 for the tournament. Oklahoma State is the leader in the clubhouse at even par after a second round 280 (-4) followed by Georgia at +5, Texas A&M (+6) and Arizona State (+7)
Illinois has won seven tournaments this year, many by finishing with a flourish in the final round. Despite Illinois' travails, the teams sits within striking distance of its goal of making the top eight and advancing to Match Play, but it will take another fantastic finish to get it done.
"As a team, we have to have five guys show up like we did for our big wins this year - Olympia Fields, and Big Tens. We have to have that same mentality the last round."
Fans can follow the completion of round two and round three at golfstatresults.com.