Follow this link to a hole by hole preview of The Honors Course.
San Diego sophomore Alex Ching and Virginia sophomore Henry Smart took down Tiger’s record but only have a slice of history.
Ching and Smart tied thecompetitive course record at 6-under-par 66 on Wednesday before sundown at The Honors Course in the second round of the NCAA championship.
Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Augusta State's Henrik Norlander tees off on hole no. 16 during the second round of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Golf Tournament Tuesday at The Honors Course. Norlander is currently tied for second at seven under par.
The record was set by Michael Sim and Ryan Blaum in the 2004 Southern Am, with Tiger Woods shooting a 67 during the 1996 NCAA championship.
“I even thought about the record, but I want to go out and have a good day (Thursday),” said Ching, who grew up surfing in Hawaii. “It was one of those days where everything clicked for me, putts fell and shots were close to the pin.”
Ching owns the individual lead at 9 under. But Illinois’ Scott Langley is at 7-under through 17 holes — including 5-under for the second round. Langley will complete his round this morning because his round was called due to darkness.
Smart shot his 66 one day after he shot at 10-over 82 with the championship being just his second tournament of the year.
“I was feeling a bit nervous,” Smart said. “I was feeling my driver, and I worked with it yesterday on the range.”
Oklahoma State sophomore Peter Uihlein and Augusta State junior Henrik Norlander are in at 7-under for the individual tournament.
Ching began his round on No. 10 and made five birdies in his first nine holes, and reached 7-under for his round when he stepped to the third tee. Then he airmailed the green resulting in a double-bogey. Ching recovered to close with five pars and a birdie.
“I think I saw three, maybe four shots,” San Diego coach Tim Mickelson said. “Alex rises to the occasion in big events. He did it last year and did it this year.”
The record-tying round helped the Torreros move up to a tie for fifth at even-par.
“I’ll be thinking about (being medalist) a lot, but I think my team is more important,” Ching said. “Getting to the top eight has been a goal since day one. To have a chance to get there is something special.”
Florida State coach Trey Jones could have flipped a coin and he would have been a winner either way when his team left the course just after lunch.
The Seminoles had all five players shoot under par and their two worst individual scores of the day were both 1 under.
Their 9-under 279 vaulted the Seminoles into the top spot after two days at the NCAA championship at The Honors Course in Ooltewah.
“They came out and jumped on a hard golf course today,” Jones said. “We knew they couldn’t keep it up all day. They had a stretch where they needed to hold it together and that’s what I’m proudest about.”
FSU is 14 under after two rounds and holds a five-shot lead over Oklahoma State heading into the final round of stroke play before the field is cut to eight for match play. Georgia Tech is in third place at 4 under and three shots clear of Florida.
OSU and FSU took advantage of perfect morning conditions — no wind, comfortable temperatures, soft and smooth greens to pull away from the rest of the field.
The afternoon rounds were interrupted by an intense thunderstorm which stopped play at 3:13 p.m. with half of the field on the course.
The thunder that threatened on Wednesday, stormed the Pete Dye-designed course on Wednesday and halted play for 2 hours, 12 minutes.
The nine teams that could not finish on Wednesday will begin their rounds this morning at 7 a.m. The tournament officials will re-pair teams with OSU, FSU and Georgia Tech beginning last on No. 1 about 2:30 p.m.
“We played really well at Notre Dame (in the NCAA Central Regional) and we had some good practices coming in here,” Jones said. “Then in Monday’s practice round, my dad said, ‘They’ve never played any better.’
“It’s one thing to do it in a practice round, it’s another to do it in the second round of the NCAAs.”
Michael Herbert shot 4 under, Drew Kittleson and Seath Lauer shot 2 under while Wesley Graham and Brooks Koepka shot 1 under. Graham started his round with five straight birdies on the back.
“Our team seemed really relaxed this morning driving to the course and on the practice range,” Graham said. “We’ve had a really good frame of mind the last couple of weeks and this is where we figured we would be.”
OSU has played almost as well during its two first rounds. The Cowboys shot 4 under on Wednesday with sophomore Peter Uihlein leading them with a 4 under day. Morgan Hoffman contributed at 2 under, and Kevin Tway shot 1 under.
“Anything can happen, and you never ease off the throttle, especially because there’s an individual title out there,” Hoffman said. “Coach (Mike McGraw) teaches us to step on everybody’s throat, so we’re going to go out and play hard tomorrow.”
At the end of play Wednesday, there were five teams within five shots of reaching the Exclusive Eight that will reach match-play on the weekend.
“There are only two teams that are not on the bubble,” said Washington coach Matt Thurmond, whose team is tied for seventh at 1 over. “And even if I had a 10-shot lead, I’d feel as if I was on the bubble.”
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David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...