Georgia Southern coach Larry Mays calls it a “college golf accordion.” Others call it a logjam.
Regardless of how you label it, day two of the 2010 Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club Saturday saw No. 28 North Florida take a seven-stroke lead over second-place, No. 49 Auburn, with seven other teams left fighting each other after being separated by only nine strokes.
The Eagles (5-over, 581) find themselves within only one stroke of No. 24 Alabama (plus-4), No. 27 Louisiana State (plus-4), and Vanderbilt (plus-6).
The bottom of the leaderboard sees a dropoff, with No. 26 Tennessee (plus-14), No. 14 Florida (plus-15) and Louisville (plus-20) bringing up the rear.
“It looks like the field’s kind of splitting into two pieces, and we’re in the top half of the split, so we’ll have a little cushion starting (today),” Mays said. “If we get out there and have our good round and take it five, six, seven under, who knows?”
The Eagles felt much better about Saturday’s round than they did after Friday’s, where they lost seven strokes on the final two holes after starting the tournament by leading the field at 8-under at the turn.
Saturday, three birdies and a pair of pars showed up on 18.
“We didn’t play the front nine as good as we did yesterday, but we played the back nine a heck of a lot better,” Mays said. “Overall not a bad day for us, and a good day for Joe Monte. He shot a 69, and any time you can put a six on the front of the score card, no matter where you’re playing, it’s a good round.”
Monte was happy with the way GSU bounced back as they shaved three strokes off the day-one score.
“I’m watching the leaderboard, and it seems like we’re moving up every time,” Monte said after he birdied 18. “It’s a lot better feeling than yesterday when it seemed like we hit 18 and everybody just kind of lost it, so you have to feel a little better about it.”
Mays was impressed with the drives and approaches throughout the tournament, but the pin placements on the Eagles’ home course have wreaked havoc.
“You’ve got to get the putts falling,” said Mays, “but everybody’s dealing with that right now. It’s where the pins are. They’re right there near the slopes, and if you don’t hit a perfect putt, it’s not going to go in.”
Still, the Eagles expect to carry the momentum from an improved round two into today, as the final round tees off at 8 a.m.
“We know the course better than anyone else, we’ve just got to play like it,” said Monte. “I don’t think we’ve done that yet.”
DIVOTS: GSU’s Logan Blondell (4-under, 139), playing as an individual in the tournament, is currently tied for third overall with Mississippi’s Jonathan Randolph. He trails only a pair of North Florida Ospreys – Kevin Phelan (8-under, 136) and J.C. Horne (6-under, 138). … Monte (tied for 13th individually) paced GSU’s Ryan Zabroske and Florian Sander (1-over, 73), and Spencer Fulford and Matt Deal (2-over, 74). … Mays expects the event to play through the expected forcast of rain today and hopes to be able to finish before any threat of thunder and lightening.