HUTCHINSON, Kan. – A long afternoon awaits Houston coach Jonathan Dismuke.
On Monday morning, his Cougars wrapped up the third and final round of stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Championship.
They were the best team in their wave (teams 16-30), finishing 54 holes at 8-over 848, but that score likely will only be good enough for match play if the wind howls in the afternoon. Around these parts, of course, that’s not an improbable scenario.
When they finished their third round, they were eight shots back of the all-important eighth spot.
“It wasn’t what we wanted,” Dismuke said of his team’s third-round 279. “The golf course was playing difficult, and it’s hard to make birdies coming down the stretch. Unfortunately, we may have started too far back.”
Senior James Ross (pictured) led the Cougars in the third round, rising up the individual leaderboard with a 4-under 66. At 5 under, he is just one shot back of 36-hole leader Cameron Wilson of Stanford.
“It’s kind of difficult because you have no idea what the other four guys are doing,” Ross said. “I just tried to focus on me and in the back of my mind hope everyone else is doing well.”
As a team, though, Houston managed just two back-nine birdies.
“It’s a catch-22,” Dismuke said. “It does free you up to play golf, because you have nothing to lose and there’s not much difference between finishing ninth and 20th. But you’d much rather be in the first wave (teams 1-15), for sure.”
Now, Houston can only wait the rest of the afternoon to see whether its 8-over score will hold up. Dismuke said he wouldn’t begin paying attention to live scoring until every team had at least played nine holes.
“It’s completely addicting if you keep hitting refresh,” Dismuke said. “You’re like a crazy person, trying to hope for something.”
Like a spot in the match-play bracket.