May 30, 2012
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. --- After climbing into contention early in the second round, the Georgia men's golf team slipped further back at the NCAA Championships on Wednesday at The Riviera Club.
The 20th-seeded Bulldogs successfully navigated the front nine and vaulted from the middle of the pack into the top 10. That position was a critical one as the top eight teams after Thursday's third round will advance to match play while the other 22 teams will be eliminated.
However, on the back nine, the Bulldogs went 12-over par and wound up at 14-over 298 for the day. After two rounds, Georgia is in 19th place at 25-over 593 --- nine strokes behind current eighth-place teams California, Kent State, Florida, Southern Cal and Illinois (584). Alabama has the overall lead at 572.
"We know exactly what we need to do," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "We're nine shots back, and it's up to us to get them back. We can't expect or rely on anyone to give them to us. Nine shots is a reachable goal, but we've got to show that we want it. Our goal all season has been to make it to match play at the NCAAs. Thursday is a growing-up kind of day for us. We need to come out blazing and try to get ourselves into that top eight. We had some positives early on today, so we need to build off of those. We also had some negatives, and we need to learn from them. Every walk around this golf course is an opportunity to learn and to perform well."
The Bulldogs will tee off in 10-minute increments on Thursday from 10:30 to 11:10 a.m. EST. Georgia will be paired with Chattanooga and Texas A&M.
Sophomore Keith Mitchell paced the Bulldogs on Wednesday with a 1-over 72. Junior T.J. Mitchell signed for a 3-over 74, while sophomore Joey Garber had a 4-over 75, and sophomore Brian Carter and freshman Nicholas Reach each posted a 6-over 77.
The Mitchells (no relation) are tied for 25th in the individual race at 3-over 145. They are eight strokes behind leader Thomas Pieters of Illinois (137). Reach is at 9-over 151, followed by Garber at 10-over 152 and Carter at 12-over 154. The individual national champion will be crowned following Thursday's round.
"Hopefully, we can keep our noses down all the way through the round Thursday," Keith Mitchell said. "We need to fire on all cylinders. We've got nothing to lose now. We need to shoot at every pin and make every putt because it could be our last competitive round of the year."
"We've got to put it together for a complete round," Haack said. "We've got to play all 18 and keep it going because anything can happen out here. We've played both nines well and both nines bad. We need to remember the good stuff and do it again."
"We need a good round Thursday," T.J. Mitchell said. "We're nine down, but you never know what will happen. The course is tough, so we've just got to hang in there, let it go and see what happens."
Live results and tee times can be found at NCAA.com.