When asked Thursday whether it was time for his team to kiss its chances of the program's fourth national title goodbye after ending the third round 18 shots off the lead, Darton coach Bill Jones III was blunt: "Oh, yeah ... we do not stand a chance."
LUBBOCK, Texas — National title No. 4 for the Darton State College golf program appears to be no longer in the cards.
Darton, which ended Day 2 in a tie for eighth place and within striking distance of the leaders, actually fired its best score of the NJCAA national tournament Thursday — a 1-over 289 — but thanks to favorable conditions and a host of equally low scores from the rest of the field, the Cavs slipped back to 11th place and find themselves a seemingly insurmountable 18 shots back of overall leader Odessa College (2-over).
So, is it time to throw in the towel?
“Oh, yeah ... we do not stand a chance,” Darton coach Bill Jones III said late Thursday evening by telephone. “Did we have one? Absolutely. Two of the teams we played with (Thursday) — Central Alabama and Scottsdale — are now in second and third place. So the chance to get the score to get back in it was there for us, we just missed it.”
Individually, however, the Cavs still have a chance to leave their mark. Nick Green, Darton’s Day 1 leader who slipped a bit on Day 2, found his stroke again Thursday when he fired the team’s low round of the week at 3-under, which was good enough to vault him back into the Top 20 at a tie for 11th overall. Taylor Martin, Darton’s second-round leader who posted a 2-under, stumbled Thursday and carded a 3-over, but the rest of Martin’s teammates — Parks Brown, Robert Robertson and Tae Kim, who have struggled all week — picked him up with some of their best rounds of the tournament thus far.
Brown, who had been 10-over through 72 holes, shot a 2-over on Thursday, while Robertson (+9 over the two days) and Tae Kim (+10) both fired scores of 1-over.
At one point during Thursday’s round, Darton was 5-under and just eight shots back, but a dismal final four holes — which Darton played at 4-over — cost the Cavs.
MITCHELL, UGA IN 4TH AFTER FIRST ROUND OF NCAA REGIONALS:
TEMPE, Ariz. — Led by freshman Lee McCoy, the 15th-ranked Georgia men’s golf team opened the NCAA’s Tempe Regional with an even-par 280 on Thursday at the ASU Karsten Golf Course.
Not far behind was former Albany Herald Player of the Year and Deerfield star T.J. Mitchell, who carded a 1-under.
The Bulldogs and five other teams are tied for fourth place at 280, 12 shots behind third-ranked UCLA. Following 54 holes of competition, the top five teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 28-June 2 at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Alpharetta. The Bulldogs are only two strokes out of second place heading into Friday’s round.
“It was a good start for us,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “We as players and coaches always want more, but we were solid enough out of the gate. We’re right in the mix. We knew this would be a tough three-day tournament, so we need to keep plugging away to keep ourselves in contention.”
McCoy paced the Bulldogs on Thursday as he signed for a 2-under 68. McCoy is sixth individually, four shots behind UCLA’s Pontus Widegren and Austin Peay’s Dustin Korte. Mitchell, UGA’s senior scoring leader, followed at 1-under 69, while junior Joey Garber had an even-par 70, and junior Keith Mitchell and sophomore Nicholas Reach each posted 3-over 73s.
The second round of the Tempe Regional will be played today. Georgia will tee off at 11:25 a.m. with its counterparts from Duke and UCLA. Live scoring can be found at golfstat.com.