May 12, 2010

Sidebar: Guilford Playing For More

By Todd Karpovich
Special to NCAA.com
            
HERSHEY, Pa. -
Top-ranked Methodist has a veteran, tournament-savvy team, so after struggling in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Division III men's golf championships, the Monarchs were not overly concerned.

That confidence showed Wednesday as Methodist jumped from 12th to first place with an overall score of 597, ahead of Huntingdon (599), Guilford (600), Skidmore (602) and Otterbein (606).

Methodist coach Steve Conley said his four seniors and one junior have won eight out of 10 tournaments this season, so that experience has paid off. It also helped that the Monarchs played the less difficult Hershey Links on Wednesday, after having trouble at the Hershey Country Club the prior day in a driving rain.

"We played well today," said Conley, this year's The USA South Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. "Believe it or not, I thought yesterday with the conditions, we hung in there. It was brutal. This is my 23rd year at nationals and that was one of the top five most difficult rounds of golf I've ever seen my guys try to have to play with the weather, the locations and the firmness of the greens. I told my guys as long as we can shoot a solid score over here today, we'll be right in the mix. And that is coming true right now."

In the individual competition, Tain Lee, of Claremont Mudd Scripps (Claremont, Calif.) continued to pull away from the rest of the field. Lee finished the second round at minus-3 and had an overall score of 138, which is six strokes better than second-place Mitch Fedorka of La Verne (California), and Steve Strock, of Hope College (Holland, Mich). Lee finished the second round with five birdies and one double bogey.
            
"It been pretty weird, because last week I had finals and finished a paper last night, so I have not been practicing that much," Lee said. "I came out for the two practice rounds and struck the ball pretty poorly. Something just clicked right before I teed off yesterday morning and I have been going with it ever since. I am making a few putts."

Fedorka is hoping to keep the pressure on Lee and is confident he will continue to swing the clubs well.

"I put myself in a good position," Fedorka said. "I hit the ball well. I hit every fairway. I missed only two greens, so I can't complain how my ball-tracking was. I feel really great and this course really suits me."

On the team side, Huntingdon (Montgomery, Ala.) made a move to second place after finishing sixth in the opening round. Head coach Matt Mahanic said playing at the Links also helped his team, which is now in position to compete for its goal of a national championship.
            
"If you have hit good shot on this course, you get rewarded for it. On the other one, that is not always the case," Mahanic said. "We try to focus on the little things. The small things take care of the big things. If each individual focuses on what they need to, then the goal will take care of itself. We made some birdies, but we still gave away some shots down the stretch. That's something we'll have to fix."

Methodist was led Trey Howell, who had a team-best 70, and is tied for seventh with a score of 147. Conley was grateful to make up some ground on the Links course after spending a long day at the Country Club on Tuesday. Overall, the average score at the Country Club after two rounds was 81.96, compared to 78.81 at the Links.
           
 "These greens have good speed, but they're more flat," Conley said. "They have some roll in them, but they are not as severe as the other course. You can score better on this golf course. The other one...what a beast. It is just beating people up. There (are) a lot of good teams and two more rounds of golf. It's not over."