Suh Takes NCAA Lead, Trojans Second At Halfway Point|
May 28, 2016
Freshman Justin Suh backed up his opening 68 with a second-round 67 to take the individual lead after 36 holes while junior Rico Hoey shot a 1-under 69 to lead No. 3 USC to second place at the halfway point of stroke play at the 2016 NCAA Men's Golf Championships on Saturday (May 28) at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C.
The Trojans, looking to improve upon their program-best runners-up finish a year ago, are a combined 5-over 565 (283-282) after a 2-over second round, two strokes back of first-place Vanderbilt's 3-over 563. Arkansas is third at 6-over 566, Oregon and LSU are tied for fourth at 8-over 568, Alabama is sixth at 9-over 569 and Texas and Illinois are tied for seventh at 10-over 570. The top 19 teams are separated by just 12 strokes.
The field will be cut to 15 teams after Sunday's third round and the top eight teams after four rounds of stroke play will advance to an eight-team match play bracket to decide the title with quarterfinals and semifinals on Tuesday and the final on Wednesday.
"I thought [today's round] went well," USC head coach Chris Zambri said. "We did not really do much differently ... I don't think the strategy really changes day to day, so you really got to drive it in the fairway. I like where we are, there is so much golf left so it's a nice way to start, but there is a lot to play."
Suh, whose best finish this year is a tie for eighth at the Western Intercollegiate in April 11, leads the field at 5-under 135 (68-67), holding a one-stroke lead over Alabama's Robby Shelton and San Diego State's Nahum Mendoza III and two ahead of Florida's Gordon Neale.
The freshman's back-to-back sub-70 rounds are a first for him this season. He opened with a 2-under front 9 with birdies on 3, 4 and 8 and turned in a 1-under back 9 with another birdie on 15.
Suh is trying to become USC's first NCAA winner since Jamie Lovemark in 2007. Lovemark, like Suh, was a freshman that year. In fact, Suh is the first Trojan to hold the NCAA individual lead since Lovemark won the 2007 crown. Troy's other NCAA medalists include Ron Commans in 1981 and Scott Simpson's back-to-back victories in 1976 and 1977.
"Approaching the NCAAs, the team focused on certain parts of the game that we expected to see and we're trying to score as well as we can," Suh said. "As far as my start, it's just a matter of staying patient."
Hoey is tied for sixth at 1-under 139 (70-69). The junior, who leads USC with eight top 10s this year, notched his team-best 13th round in the 60s with birdies on 1 and 8 and just one bogey on 17.
Senior Andrew Levitt is tied for 35th at 2-over 142 (70-72). Levitt, in his first NCAA Championships, turned in 1-over front and back 9s with birdies on 4, 6 and 15.
Sophomore Jonah Texeira is tied for 125th at 11-over 151 (75-76) while sophomore Sean Crocker is tied for 133rd at 12-over 152 (78-74).
USC will join fellow top 3 teams Vanderbilt and Arkansas with an 8:22 a.m. third round tee time on Sunday off the first tee.
USC finished fifth in stroke play last year to earn its second match-play berth since the format changed 2009. It was that year when the Trojans secured their other match play spot after a third place finish (ultimately losing in the quarterfinals).