BRADENTON, Fla. – Reaching into his UCLA bag on the 16th hole Saturday, Jonathan Garrick noticed something alarming.
He was down to his last golf ball.
“I was just thinking, Don't get disqualified,” he said Sunday. “That was the most nervous I think I’ve ever been.”
Garrick managed to avoid the water that figured prominently on each of the last three holes and signed for a back-nine 48.
His second-round 84 was UCLA’s throw-out score, but without a good round from the Bruins’ best player, they were outside the top-15 bubble heading into the third round of stroke play.
They’re not in trouble anymore.
Garrick, who celebrated his 21st birthday Sunday, made eagle on the third hole (after a 273-yard 3-wood to 3 feet) and tacked on five more birdies the rest of the way for a 68. The Bruins also got a 4-under round from Preston Valder, who aced the 205-yard 14th hole, and the team’s 8-under 280 was the best round of the week (by two). They are now safely inside the bubble, with another cut to the low eight teams looming Monday.
“I’m happy for them,” Freeman said, “but this joy has to be short-lived for us. We have more work to do.”
The biggest turnaround was Garrick, who made two bogeys, two doubles, a triple and a quad during a 12-over back nine.
All he could think about was Tiger Woods in the 2000 U.S. Open, when he famously was down to his last ball on his 72nd hole. Different circumstances, of course, but Garrick risked disqualifying himself from the tournament – and torpedoing his team’s chances – if he ran out of balls.
“He’s been our leader all year,” Freeman said, “and for him to struggle was a wakeup call. I told him, ‘Let’s accept it and move on because we are not out of this.’”