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Round 3 is ultimate stress-fest at the NCAAs

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MILTON, Ga. – Thursday at the NCAA Championship is a day for extra cellphone batteries, or at least some antacids.

For college coaches, Round 3 is the ultimate stress-fest as they constantly update live scoring to see if their team is safely inside the top eight in the standings after the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

On Friday, the top eight teams – seeded by how they finish Thursday – square off in match play at Capital City Club.

Every team wants to be the No. 1 overall seed, of course, but does it really matter? After all, one poor match-play performance can end a season, regardless of the opponent.

“You want to win,” said Alabama coach Jay Seawell, whose team is three shots back of host Georgia Tech after two rounds. “You go in with the mindset that you’re trying to win. Doing anything less than that is a bad habit.”

“Of course we want to win,” said ’Bama sophomore Justin Thomas.

Top-ranked Cal, which has won 11 of its 13 starts this season, is one shot back after a day that could have been much better.

At one point Wednesday, the Golden Bears pushed their overall score to 20 under par – 17 under for the day – only to falter down the stretch and post 11-under 549 for two rounds.

“It was party time,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said, “and now it’s a root canal.”

Cal senior Max Homa was asked whether it was important to get the No. 1 overall seed heading into match play.

“I’ll take eighth place, I don’t really care,” he said. “It’s the most stressful day of all of our lives. As long as I’m playing match play, I’m pretty happy.”