March 13, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Buffeted by howling winds, the Florida State men’s golf team managed to hang on to the Seminole Intercollegiate lead by the narrowest of margins Saturday at Southwood Golf Course.
The Seminoles carry a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of the 54-hole tournament over South Carolina, which charged from 10 shots back into contention on a day when FSU coach Trey Jones’ squad could not match its opening round performance. The Seminoles opened the day at six-under par and seven shots clear of second place North Carolina, but finished the second round with a 14-over score for a two-day total of eight-over, 576.
That’s one shot better than South Carolina (577), which rallied with a team score of 289.
“Today was what I refer to a lot as adult golf,” said Jones. “It was going to expose your weaknesses. That’s the hardest I’ve seen that golf course play and probably as hard as my team has seen it play. We did not do a very good job of being patient out there. They started fighting it and pressing when things didn’t go well and that just compounded mistakes.
“The weather just hit us right in the face. South Carolina played a great round. We did not.”
The 7,143-yard course, playing host to the tournament for the first time, played considerably different Saturday as winds gusting to 37 mph took a toll on scoring. Only six players posted scores of par (71) or better in the second round, compared to 21 in Friday’s opening round.
North Carolina’s Jack Fields, the first round leader, followed up his opening-round 66 with an even-par 71 to retain the individual lead. The Tar Heels are tied for third with North Texas at 580.
Florida State freshman Doug Letson, representing the Seminoles as an individual, is four shots back and alone in second place. Letson was the first to post a round of even-par 71 and is at 1-under 141.
The Tampa native opened the day in a six-way tie for seventh after an opening-round 70. Starting his second round on the back nine, Letson carded his lone birdie on the 511-yard, 16th hole – the longest par four and most difficult hole on the course. Letson suffered his lone bogey at No. 6 – the shortest par three on the course – before finishing his round with three consecutive pars.
“I controlled the ball with the wind pretty wel,” said Letson, a left-handerl. “I just didn’t make very many mistakes out there. I stayed patient and controlled what I can control and not let the wind bother me very much.”
Letson rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 16; a hole that through two rounds is playing nearly a full shot over par in the 75-player field.
“Doug has that ability,” said Jones, praising his youngsters’ run at the top of the leaderboard. “He has shown it all year long. His good is really, really good. He’s a smart player who plays within himself and doesn’t try things he shouldn’t try and that is absolutely the key when you have the weather that we had today.”
Florida State senior Seath Lauer carded a second-round 73 and is locked in a four-way tie for third place at one-over, 142. North Texas’ Dustin Thompson, who posted the low round of the day at two-under, 69, is among that group.
“It was obviously difficult; probably the most wind we’ve ever seen out there,” said Lauer, who helped the Seminoles preserve their lead by closing the round with three pars. “It was very eventful. I wouldn’t say I played well at all. I left a lot of easy ones out there. The short game is a little rough around the greens. … It’s just difficult.”
FSU freshman Brooks Koepka also fired a second-round 73 and is tied for ninth. Teammate Wesley Graham carded a 75 and is tied for 12th, while Drew Kittleson and Michael Hebert each posted rounds of 77 for the Seminoles.
The eighth-ranked Seminoles head into Sunday’s final round looking for their third tournament victory of the season and their second Seminole Intercollegiate title in three years.
“It’s not where we wanted to be, but like coach said, we’ve got a chance to win,” said Lauer. “Whenever we put ourselves in that position – where we know we have a chance to win – there’s no reason why we can’t win the golf tournament.”