ALPHARETTA — It wasn’t the greatest of days on the golf course, but Georgia Southern remains in contention after a 13-over par showing during the second round of the NCAA Southeast Regional at the Capital City Club Crabapple Course in Alpharetta Friday.
The Eagles now sit at 21-over par for the tournament and in eighth place after Thursday’s 8-over performance had taken them as high as fourth.
“We just got off to another rough start,” said GSU coach Larry Mays. “We have some guys playing really well, but we still had to battle to get through it today. We’re still in a good spot. We’re competing against the best out there, so we’re going to have to go out in the final round and earn it.”
Tournament leader Clemson (E) was 3-under for the day, surpassing first round leader and No. 1 ranked Clemson, which finished Friday at 2-over par and is 4-over for the tournament.
Ten strokes behind Clemson in third place is Georgia Tech, while Brigham Young (+14) and South Alabama (+14) round out the top five spots. All others in the field will be giving chase today, as the top five finishers in the regional will earn bids to the NCAA Championships in Chattanooga.
As was the case in the opening round, GSU got off to a shaky start.
Four of the five Eagles opened with a bogey, and things did not get much better as GSU completed the front nine at 8-over par.
To make matters worse, the Eagles still had to contend with holes 10-18 — GSU started on the back nine Thursday — which have played harder than the front nine.
But just as they had done in the first round, the Eagles bounced back.
Facing a stretch of holes that it had gone 9-over on the day before, GSU turned in a 5-over effort to stop some of the bleeding and maintain a spot in the midst of the face for a top-5 finish.
“I was a little disconcerted after the front nine today,” said Mays. “The course was a little more receptive today because of the rain. That made it play longer though, so I was proud of our guys for sticking with it and doing a little better on the back nine.”
Logan Blondell was once again a standout for GSU.
The junior fired his second straight 69 to bring his individual mark to 2-under for the tournament.
While the Eagles are senior-laden, it was a freshman that turned in the second best effort of the day.
Florian Sander began his round with ten consecutive pars, and handled the difficult back nine to finish the day with a 2-over 72.
“Usually, it’s the seniors that everyone looks for to produce,” said Sander. “I’m glad that I was able to help the team out today. It’s exciting playing at this level with so many other talented teams. Hopefully, I can go out and put up another good score in the final round.”
Heading into today’s final round, the Eagles stand just five strokes back of fifth place.
Every member of the GSU squad has turned in at least one round of 75 or better, but with the four of the five scores counting towards the team total in each round, it will take a good all-around effort to earn a spot in the championship round.
“This is a tough course,” said Mays. “72 and 73 aren’t bad scores here. We just need to put together four of them. To compete at this level, you need to post four good scores each round, and today we only got three. If we can get four or all five of our guys playing at the top of their game tomorrow, I feel like we can get right back into it.”
Today, GSU will be playing with Arizona State (+18) and Wake Forest (+23). The Eagles will tee off at 7:30 a.m. and will again begin their round on the 10th hole.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.