BURLINGTON, Iowa — Darton State’s golf team faced a mountain to climb after Tuesday’s opening round of the NJCAA national tournament when the Cavs found themselves tied for ninth place after a disappointing 28-0ver 316.
They took some steps in the right direction on Wednesday.
The Cavs responded with a 10-over 298 in the second round — one of the tournament’s best scores so far — and moved into fourth place.
That was the good news.
The bad news: Front-runner Indian Hills Community College didn’t take its foot off the gas.
The Cavs were able to leap past four teams in the standings but remain 21 shots behind Indian Hills, which shot a tournament-best, 7-over 295 on Wednesday.
“I am pleased that we at least moved up,” Darton coach Dale Dover said. “I was really hurt (Tuesday), because I have been in a lot of these fights and know that when you are that far back it’s really tough. It takes it out of your control. Somebody else has to help you.”
But can the Cavs make up 21 shots in two rounds?
“Oh yes,” Dover said when asked that same question. “If they can help us out and we can play good, anything can happen with two rounds left. Those boys could choke too, ya know? If we can get within 10 or 12 shots going into the last day, you always have a chance with a good round.”
Darton sits at 38-over for the tournament, while Wallace State (Ala.) Community College (22-over) and Iowa Western Community College (29-over) also trail Indian Hills (17-over).
Darton’s 298 on Wednesday tied for the third-best round of the 22-team tournament, but Dover said he is looking for something even better today and Friday.
“If we go out and post a 290 or 292, and (Indian Hills) shoots a 304 or something, then all of a sudden we are back in the hunt in the last day,” he said. “So I am going to tell them to go out there and shoot a good round and that there is no pressure on us. We are capable of it.”
Four of the five Darton golfers improved from Tuesday to Wednesday, including sophomore Madison Turner, who shot an even-par 72 on Wednesday after shooting a nine-over 81 in the opening round. Other Darton scores on Wednesday were Seth Sanders 2-over, Taylor Martin 3-over, Tae Kim 5-over and jake O’Bryan 7-over.
Sanders and Turner were both under par after the opening nine but gave back a few shots on the back nine. Kim was playing steady golf until the 18th hole, which he triple-bogeyed.
“We are coming in with a 295 if Tae makes par on that last hole,” Dover said. “Or even a double would have helped us there.”
Zac Oliver of Paris (Texas) Junior College leads all individuals at 1-under, while Sanders, Darton’s top individual, is tied for 14th at 8-over.