San Diego State extends lead
Berry, Kang help Aztecs take control at conference tournament
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Behind the play of day two co-leaders Tom Berry and Alex Kang, San Diego State increased its advantage from one to five strokes on Saturday following the second round of the 2012 Mountain West championship. The 14th-ranked Aztecs posted the best score by any squad in the tournament thus far with a 6-under 278, cutting two strokes off their day one total for a 10-under 558, which is five better than No. 16 New Mexico (563) and nine in front of Colorado State (567) at the par-71, 7,144-yard OMNI Tucson National Golf Resort.
SDSU actually fell behind the Lobos into second place midway through the second round, but rallied on the back nine, going from 1-over through nine holes to a combined 9-under on the final nine with the help of 14 birdies and just four bogeys between its five players. Both Berry and Kang accounted for four birdies and five pars apiece on the back nine to vault them into a tie for first place on the individual leaderboard at 5-under 137. The Aztec duo is just one stroke in front of a group of four other golfers, including round one leader Zahkai Brown of Colorado State.
“We started a little slow today, but once we got to the back nine the holes really started to fit our eyes and we began making some birdies,” said SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan. “The wind was somewhat of a factor out there and I’m proud of the way the guys adjusted to it. They also didn’t let [falling behind] really bother them and just concentrated on their own games ”
After playing through illness on Friday, Berry got off to a good start in the second round with consecutive birdies on his opening two holes. He then bogeyed the par-3 third hole and the par-4 ninth to make the turn at even. After carding two pars, the junior fired four birdies over his next five holes, including a run of three in a row, before heading into the clubhouse with two more pars for a 4-under 67.
Kang, meanwhile, was tied for second place entering the day but found himself at 4-over for the round after logging the team’s only double bogey thus far on the par-5 eighth. He quickly got those two strokes back with consecutive birdies and would add three more before the round was done to get all the way back to 1-under 70.
Two of SDSU’s other three golfers also improved on the individual leaderboard in the second round. Senior Matt Hoffenberg jumped six slots from 20th into a tie for 14th place at 1-over 143. Hoffenberg, who managed just one birdie through the first 18 holes, had four on Saturday to offset three bogeys and ultimately carded a 70. Classmate Colin Featherstone trimmed two strokes off his day-one total with a 71, highlighted by three birdies and 12 pars to move from 20th into 18th place with a 144.
In fifth place to start the round, senior J.J. Spaun was 2-over on the front nine, but got back to even-par with birdies on the 10th and 13th. He finished out the afternoon with four pars to give him 28 for the tournament, but also bogeyed the par-4 16th hole to drop him into a tie for 11th with a 142.