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Griffin shines for GSW at D-II regionals; Hurricanes struggling as team

J.P. Griffin is in second place overall at the Division II Regionals in North Carolina.

J.P. Griffin is in second place overall at the Division II Regionals in North Carolina.

CONOVER, N.C. —Day 1 at the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Golf Regional was all about a fast start for Georgia Southwestern standout J.P. Griffin as he birdied five of his first seven holes.

On Day 2 at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa it was all about a strong finish.

Griffin birdied four of his final six holes Tuesday afternoon to finish with an even-par 72 in Round 2 and a 4-under 140 overall. He’s now tied for second overall in the race for the low medalist, although as a team the Hurricanes have struggled.

Griffin’s tremendous finish was easily the highlight in an otherwise rough afternoon for GSW, which struggled from the get-go and posted a 14-over 302. Southwestern heads into the final round tied for 17th place at the 20-team event.

They are 20 strokes behind the leader Georgia College.

“We struggled (as a team Tuesday), but the guys fought hard on the back nine,” GSW coach Andrew Danna said in a text message to The Herald on Tuesday. “I am really proud of them for their effort. JP played great, especially on the back nine.”

The top five teams and the top two players not on a qualifying team advance to the finals May 15-19 at The Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Ky., as part of the 2012 Division II Spring Championships Festival. Griffin is two strokes out of the lead, but holds the second individual spot in the finals by one stroke over Ben Taylor from Nova Southeastern.

Former Lee County star and Herald Player of the Year Nate Gahman and Christopher Hall managed to shave a stroke off their opening round 77s as both finished with a score of 76, while Craig Gibson shot a 78. Travis Oestmann carded an 83.

Southwestern golfers will be paired with competitors from Wingate University and Valdosta State in Round 3 this morning.