STILLWATER, Okla. - Georgia Tech's golf team maintained its lead despite struggling on its second nine on Wednesday, getting a pair of even-par 72s from Paul Haley and John-Tyler Griffin and posting a 2-over 290 team score in the second round of the NCAA Golf Championship at the Karsten Creek Golf Club.
The 4th-seeded Yellow Jackets, who started the day with a 3-shot lead over UCLA, saw the margin trimmed to one stroke, while first-round leader James White and freshman Richard Werenski each posted a 1-over 73.
Tech has a 36-hole total of 3-under 573, and the Bruins are at 2-under 574 after posting an even-par 288 Wednesday.
White's difficulties on the second nine cost him the individual lead, but it took a second-round 65 from LSU's John Peterson to pass him. Peterson finished 36 holes at 5-under 139, while the Tech junior from Acworth, Ga., is a stroke back at 4-under 140. UCLA's Patrick Cantlay (69 Wednesday) is tied for third place at 3-under 141 with Georgia's Harris English (71) and Illinois' Luke Guthrie (69).
Meanwhile, on the strength of the second-lowest round of the day, Georgia improved to fourth place. The Bulldogs shot an even-par 288, bettered only by Illinois' 1-under 287, and stand at 3-over 579 through 36 holes.
"We knew coming out here, it would take three good rounds," Georgia coach Chris Haack said "You just can't make any mistakes. We've got two in the books and one more to go. We've got to go out and play solid and keep the same mindset. We've got to play the golf course as it comes. I want us to do what we've been doing: hit the fairways and the greens and stay out of trouble as much as you can. It feels good to be in the hunt. We're in a position to kind of control our own destiny, and that's where we want to be."
Senior Harris English and sophomore Bryden Macpherson paced the Bulldogs with 1-under 71s on Wednesday. Senior Russell Henley added an even-par 72, while senior Hudson Swafford signed for a 2-over 74. Sophomore T.J. Mitchell had the Bulldogs' non-counting score of 9-over 81.
Third-seeded Alabama shot a 4-over-par 292 to sit in fifth place at 4-over-par 580. True freshman Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide in round two with a 1-under-par 71. He recorded birdies on three of his final four holes to move into a tie for 14th at even-par 144.
"It was a wild round," Whitsett said walking off the 18th green. "I hit it great the first eight holes and then started hitting it all over the place for five holes, and I wasn't making any putts, which usually isn't a good combination. I finally made a couple of putts on the 15th and 16th and then the birdie on 18 was a good way to finish."
Junior Bud Cauley carded a 1-over-par 73 on Wednesday with a bogey on the challenging 17th hole. He followed with an impressive par on the 18th that included a winding 100-foot putt from the back of the green over a mound and down the hill to within three feet. Cauley enters round three at 1-under-par 143, four shots off the lead of John Peterson of LSU, who shot a course-record 65 on Wednesday.
Hunter Hamrick and Bobby Wyatt both recorded 2-over-par 74s in the second round to count towards the Tide's 4-over-par total. Hamrick is 1-over 145 for the tournament and tied for 21st. Wyatt is 4-over 148 and tied for 46th. Freshman Trey Mullinax was the Tide's drop score on Wednesday at 7-over 79 and is tied for 146th position.
"I don't think we had our best today," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said following Wednesday's round. "To get out of here at 4-over is not bad on a day when you don't have your best. We made a lot of bogeys today, which means we are just a little bit off. We didn't putt it like we would have wanted to, and our ball striking wasn't the best."