WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. ' The Kentucky mens golf team played like a team on a mission in the second round of the NCAA Central Region Championships. The Cats (298-285=583) posted a tournament-best 285 score on day two to move ahead of Oklahoma State (287-298=585) for first place after 36 holes of the tournament. Juniors Brandon Waldrop (70-70=140) and John Holmes (73-70=143) posted a pair of 70 scores and sit in 1st and tied for 3rd, respectively.
We got off to an extremely fast start on the front nine today, said Kentucky coach Brian Craig. We came out and playing with confidence and poise.
The Wildcats were one of the first teams to tee off on day two, but play was slowed by rain, lightening and windy conditions. However, the conditions didnt seem to affect UK on the front nine as four Cats went out under par. After the first nine holes, the Cats were 7 under par and blowing away the rest of the field.
The wind started to pick up and then we had the rain delay, Craig said. When we hit the back nine it was much more difficult. We still hung in there and played very well only giving up a few shots here and there.
UK was the only team of the day to finish under par with its 3-under par 285. The next best team performance was Oklahoma (305-294=599), which shot a 6-over par 294.
Waldrop, who has played as Kentuckys No. 4 player most of the season, has been the biggest surprise of the tournament thus far. The Louisville, Ky., native hasnt finished higher than eighth place this season, yet he has a chance to take home top honors in UKs biggest tournament to date. Waldrop leads Jason Hartwick (Texas) by two strokes heading into the third and final round.
It looks to me that Brandons maturity level has skyrocketed looking at how he has conducted himself with his pre-shot routine and approach to each shot, Craig said. He looks like a professional out there as opposed to a college player. He hits the ball well all the time, but the way he has handled himself has been remarkable and translated into two terrific rounds of golf. We are real proud of him, he is right in there and it is good to see him play well.
'I just stuck to my game plan of trying to hit the fairways, Waldrop said. With these roughs, its tough to get anything out of them, so the best bet is to hit the fairways. The course is very tough, but I thought it actually played a little easier today. We had a talk last night about picking up our games and trying to catch Oklahoma State.'
Holmes, a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection and Kentuckys No. 1 player, is also in the hunt for the individual championship. The junior moved to within three strokes of the lead after trailing by four strokes at the beginning of the day.
John played very well yesterday with the exception of one bad swing, Craig said. Today, he played beautiful all day and probably shot the highest score he could have shot. He is a terrific player and he has his A game right now. He will be knocking on the door tomorrow trying to win it. He is due for something like that.
The Cats also got a lift from Matt Wells (76-72=148), who played an even-par 72 in the second round and Mark Blakefield (79-73=152) turned in a 1-over par 73. Tyler Wilson (81-77=158) rounded out Kentuckys lineup with a 77.
Overall, I feel pretty good about getting through the circumstances, the stage and the golf course, Craig said. I think 285 will prove to be an exceptional round of golf especially considering the weather conditions. Im real happy with the guys. They deserve this and have worked hard for it.
Top 10 Team Standings
1 Univ. of Kentucky 298-285=583
2 Oklahoma State 287-298=585
3 Univ. of Texas 298-296=594
4 Texas A&M 292-303=595
5 Purdue 295-302=597
6 Univ. of Oklahoma 305-294=599
7 Southern Methodist 302-299=601
T8 Wichita State 302-300=602
T8 Texas Christian 305-297=602
T10 Univ. of Minnesota 302-303=605
T10 Kansas State 300-305=605
Top Five Individuals
1 Brandon Waldrop (Kentucky) 70-70=140
2 Jason Hartwick (Texas) 69-73=142
3 John Holmes (Kentucky) 73-70=143
Andrew Parr (Texas A&M) 69-74=143
Casey Wittenberg (Oklahoma State) 69-74=143