HUTCHINSON, Kan. – In a tournament that boasts the biggest names in college golf, it was the 153rd-ranked player who was tied for the individual lead Sunday at the NCAA Championship.
That was little-known Georgia State junior Davin White, who held a share of the lead at 6 under par until a double bogey on his final hole at Prairie Dunes.
It was his only blemish during a second-round 67 that left him in a tie for third individually, just two shots off the lead heading into the third and final round of stroke-play qualifying. No Georgia State player has ever finished better than 13th at the NCAA finals.
“The finish was a little disappointing,” White said, “but if you’d told me before the round that I’d shoot 67, I would have taken it.”
Prior to this week, White had shot in the 60s just three times this season, but he was coming off a T-9 at last week’s San Antonio regional. It was only his second top 10 of the season.
As a freshman he was ranked in the 600s nationally. Last year, he moved up into the 400s. Though he’s still well outside the top 100, now, incredibly, he’s within two shots of Stanford senior Cameron Wilson, the No. 2-ranked player in college golf, and only one back of his Cardinal teammate Patrick Rodgers, the No. 1.
How can that happen?
“We’re Georgia State, and we get no love,” said head coach Joe Inman. “I tell them all the time: 'You’re fighting for respect. You have to make it where they have to write something about you.'”
On Sunday, White hit it inside a foot on three of the par 3s and also chipped in on his fifth hole. On the eighth fairway he saw, for the first time, that he was in a share of the individual lead. After an up-and-down par, White was just off the green at the par-4 ninth (his last of the day), but he bladed his chip from a bare lie, lagged to 2 feet and missed the bogey putt.
“He had a chance to shoot lights-out,” Inman said. “It’s a shame, but he’s getting more solid.”
Inman, who played at Prairie Dunes in the 2006 U.S. Senior Open, said that White is one of the most aggressive players he’s ever had on his teams.
“If I’m playing match play, he’s my No. 1, playing against the biggest and the baddest on the other team,” Inman said. “He’s not afraid of the devil.”
Neither are the rest of the 43rd-ranked Panthers, who finished second last week at regionals to secure their first NCAA finals berth since 2007.
At 15 over par, they are 12 shots back of the all-important eighth spot heading into the final round.
Said Inman: “I told the guys: ‘We are playing with house money, boys. Go out and enjoy yourself. You can’t lose. You’ve already overachieved.’”