STILLWATER, Okla. - LSU’s John Peterson shot a 7-under 65 on Wednesday to break the competitive course record and take the individual lead in the NCAA Golf Championships, while Georgia Tech topped the team standings at difficult Karsten Creek.
Peterson was 5 under overall with one round left in the individual competition. Georgia Tech’s James White was a stroke back after a 73, and UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay (69), Georgia’s Harris English (71) and Illinois’ Luke Guthrie (69) were 3 under.
Georgia Tech had a 3-under 573 total. UCLA was a stroke back, followed by Illinois (2 over), Georgia (3 over), Alabama (4 over), top-ranked Oklahoma State (9 over), Augusta State (12 over) and Texas A&M and Ohio State (14 over). The top eight teams after the third round Thursday will advance to match play.
Peterson eagled the par-5 14th and had six birdies and a bogey to break the competitive course record of 66 shared by former Oklahoma State star Hunter Mahan , Illinois’ Patrick Nagle and Kansas’ Andy Stewart. The lowest round ever shot at Karsten Creek is a 63 by Jeff Mcmillian.
“I played good out there today,” said Peterson, who finished third in the 2009 Central Regional at Karsten Creek. “I had control of my ball all day. When you have control of your ball, you can hit at flags you normally wouldn’t. I got it to where I knew where the ball was going to fly and how far it would release.
“When you feel like you know everything, you can take it right at the hole, or you can take it right at a spot where you think you can put it in. It all came together today and it really hadn’t all come together for me in college for one round, but it did today and feels pretty good to have it at this course.”
Georgia Tech and UCLA took advantage of their Oklahoma connections, while the host Cowboys struggled.
Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler was an assistant at Oklahoma State when the difficult Karsten Creek was constructed, and UCLA coached Derek Freeman is an Oklahoma native. Heppler, in his 16th year at Georgia Tech, said he gave his teams a plan, but “every plan is good until you get hit.”
“I know a few things I’ve been able to share with them,” Heppler said. “But the most important thing is we have a team that drives the ball straight and that’s such a huge factor here.”
Freeman had the Bruins, seeking their third national title, fly to Edmond for three days of practice at Oak Tree National, one of the few courses in the area as difficult as Karsten Creek.
In addition to Cantlay, the Bruins’ Gregor Main (72-70) was tied for sixth at 2 under in a group that included Oklahoma State star Peter Uihlein (69) - the U.S. Amateur champion last year and Ben Hogan Award winner this season as the top college player.
The biggest buzz at the course centered around Oklahoma State’s slow start.
Uihlein was the only Cowboy to break par in the first two rounds. Oklahoma State won the stroke play portion of the NCAA tournament handily the past two years only to fall in match play. To not make the eight-team match-play field would be unthinkable to the program seeking its 11th national championship.
“We’ve just got to get back to thinking winning golf,” Cowboys coach Mike McGraw said. “Sometimes picking up ground is just making a good par. Par is always good out here. I think when you see that leaderboard, you won’t see many teams under par at the end of this tournament. Do all the things you know and forget about the bad things.”
Freeman, a former University of Oklahoma star who began his coaching career at Oklahoma City University before guiding UCLA to the national title in his first full season in 2008, said it was easy for Oklahoma State to get tripped up by the lofty expectations.
“What people forget is that all these teams have played on great courses against great competition all over the country,” Freeman said.