No. 17 Kent State In The Hunt After Two Rounds At NCAA Championship

Updated 5/31/2012
Courtesy of Kent State Sports Information

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Resiliency has been the calling card for Kent State men's golf all season and today's second round at the 2012 NCAA Championship proved to be no different for the No. 17 ranked squad.  Following a slow start off the 10th hole, the Golden Flashes worked their way back to a +7, 291 team score at Riviera Country Club on Wednesday setting up what is expected to be a memorable final round of stroke play on Thursday.  

At +16 (293-291=584) for the tournament, Kent State currently sits amongst a five-way tie for 8th and one shot back of the top eight which will advance to the match-play bracket on Friday.  No. 3 California, No. 6 USC, No. 18 Florida and No. 32 Illinois have all matched the Golden Flashes after two rounds while No. 1 Texas and No. 7 Oregon sit only one shot back of a crowded leaderboard that has 16 teams sitting in places 3-18 separated by a mere nine shots.  

No. 2 Alabama held onto the top position for the second straight day having completed the first 36-holes in 4-over par.

"I'm really proud of the way that instead of packing it in after the slow start, these guys fought their way back," said  Director of Golf/Head Coach Herb Page. "They started making some birdies again coming down the stretch and played themselves back into it.  We are right where we need to be and just have to put another good round together tomorrow."  

Switching over to a back nine start on Wednesday accounted for the Golden Flashes stumbling out of the gate as the team was snake bit by the challenging 315-yard par hole once again.

"We played 10 miserably, but as I've said all year this is a very resilient group," said Page whose team recovered after the five-man line-up combined to shoot +7 on the hole.  

Sophomore Kyle Kmiecik (Avon, Ohio) carded a double-bogey on No. 10, but that was one of his only mistakes of the day as he paced the team by firing a 1-under, 70.  Kmiecik, who climbed 46 places up the leaderboard into a tie for 16th, got one shot back after a birdie on No. 13, then added two more on Nos 1 and 3 before a bogey on No. 4 brought him back to even par.  He struck again with his fourth birdie of the day on No. 6, then got up and down on the final three holes to secure his lowest scoring round in the last five tournaments.  

With one birdie against two bogeys, senior Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ontario) added a 1-over 72 followed by a 3-over from Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ontario) and a 4-over from sophomore Corey Conners (Listowel, Ontario).  One off the individual lead at the start of the day, Conners fell out of the top ten as he was 6-over before back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 rallied him back into a tie for 10th and the Golden Flashes into a tie for 8th.  

Junior Kevin Miller (Dover, Ohio) posted a 6-over to round out the line-up.  

"Our goal all year had been to get here and get into that top eight," said Page.  "I think we are very capable and I don't think we have played our best round yet out here.  We got room for improvement.  Now we can go out tomorrow, try to play our best round and see if its good enough to get us into that top eight."

The final round of stroke play will begin in the afternoon tomorrow off No. 10 for Kent State.  

After three rounds, an individual medalist will be crowned and the top eight teams will advanced to a single elimination match-play bracket with 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5. Teams will be seeded in order of their stroke play finish. Match-play quarterfinals start on Friday, June 1 with the semifinals on June 2 and championship match on June 3.