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Darton climbs nationals leaderboard on Day 2

Darton freshman Taylor Martin posted the Cavs' low round on Day 2 of 2-under at NJCAA nationals, but Darton is still 18 shots back of the lead as a team.

Darton freshman Taylor Martin posted the Cavs' low round on Day 2 of 2-under at NJCAA nationals, but Darton is still 18 shots back of the lead as a team.

LUBBOCK, Texas — When the Darton State College men’s golf team walked onto the course Wednesday, the volatile West Texas weather had decided to cut the Cavs a break.

Unfortunately, Darton didn’t capitalize as much as it would’ve liked.

While the Cavs were five shots better from their first and second rounds — firing a 295 on Wednesday, compared to a 300 on Tuesday that head coach Bill Jones called “awful” — Jones again said Wednesday’s score should’ve been “far lower” given the pristine weather conditions when Darton teed off at 11 a.m.

“I’m not kidding when I say this, but (Wednesday’s) weather was the absolute best conditions we could’ve asked to ever play a round of golf in,” Jones by telephone late Wednesday evening. “The morning was windy, cold and awful and the evening was hot and a little windy again, but when we went out, it was perfect.”

Jones then added: “But to shoot 295 and be five shots better (on Wednesday) is really unacceptable for a course that played way easier than five shots better. We should’ve been under 290, and we weren’t. And now we find ourselves pretty far off the lead.”

Darton, which finished the second round in a tie for eighth place overall with Central Alabama, moved up three spots from its tie for 11th it ended Day 1 at. Still, Jones cringed when he looked at the leaderboard over dinner Wednesday evening, seeing a host of schools in front of the Cavs — and slowly pulling away.

Midland Community College (1-under) and McLennan CC (+1) were the leaders after two rounds. And while Darton doesn’t appear that far back in eighth place, a staggering 18 shots separate the Cavs from the leader.

And Jones knows why.

“Top to bottom? We’re hitting the ball well — we just can’t get the ball in the hole,” the second-year coach lamented. “Out short game is horrible and has been all year. There’s no other way to put it.”

Darton’s Day 1 leader, Nick Green, who finished his first round even par and tied for 14th individually, fell to a tie for 19th on Wednesday after a round of 2-over. The biggest bright spot during the second round was the play of freshman Taylor Martin, who fired the Cavs’ low round of the day at 2-under and sits tied for 24th — a 42-spot jump after ending Day 1 tied for 66th.

Still, Jones said Taylor’s score should’ve been lower.

“He played well, but if he doesn’t double-bogey (No. 4 ) early in the round, he may have had the low score out of anybody on the day,” Jones said. “Overall, we just need to start better. We were 10-over as a team through the first seven holes — that’s 2-over per person — yet we finished 7-over for the entire day. A stat like that, at the end of the round, is hard to swallow.”

Outside of Green and Martin, the scores were once again dismal. Robert Robertson (+3), Tae Kim (+4) and Parks Brown (+8) combined to shoot 15-over.

Jones said he doesn’t like to give his guys specific numbers to shoot for before a round because it can put too much pressure on each player, but at this point something’s got to give.

“We’re going to get with the guys we think can post low numbers (today) and get us back into this, and tell them what we need to them to shoot,” the coach said. “We’re going to lay out our expectations and tell them how we expect them to do it. We’re behind by almost 20 strokes — it’s time to make something happen.”

Darton tees off at 1 p.m. today.