LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Chico State was not going to make up for last year’s NCAA West/Central Super Regional frustrations in one round. But the Wildcats certainly came close on Monday, carding a combined 15-under par 273 to take a 10-shot lead with two rounds to play at the Wigwam Gold Course.
An incorrectly signed scorecard at last year’s event cost the Wildcats a berth in the NCAA Championship finals. Since that day, redemption has been the team’s focus. A top-five finish in this week’s 54-hole event will guarantee the Wildcats a berth in this year’s finals. The action continues with Tuesday’s second round and concludes with Wednesday’s final round.
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Kyle Souza shot a 6-under par 30 on the front nine and finished the day alone in first place with 7-under par 65. Eric Frazzetta was 6-under through 12 and finished the day in third place at 5-under. Chris Doyle is tied for ninth at 2-under par. Kevin Rei is tied for 15th at 1-under. And Bobby Bucey shot an even-par 72 to finish the day tied for 19th in the 108-player field.
The Wildcats lead Colorado Mines and Cal State Stanislaus by 10 strokes. Tournament host Grand Canyon is in fourth at 3-under par, Cal State Monterey Bay fifth at 2-over par, and Western sixth at 3-over par. That means the Wildcats have an 18-shot cushion in their search for an NCAA finals berth.
Souza holds a one-shot lead ahead of Jim Knous of Colorado Mines and Cal State East Bay’s Blake Ahlin and a two-shot advantage ahead of teammate Eric Frazzetta, whom he tied for first in last week’s California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championships.
Souza carded four birdies and an eagle on the front nine and then rolled home three straight birdies from the 12th to the 14th to go to 9-under par. The defending NCAA Individual Champion bogeyed 15 and 16 before finishing the round with consecutive pars.
Frazzetta birdied the 1st, 4th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th to get to 6-under par. His only bogey came at the par-4 17th.
Doyle, the team’s No. 5 player entering the event, was a team-best 3-under par on his bogey-free back nine. He sank consecutive birdie putts on 13, 14 and 15.
Rei recorded 14 pars and his birdie on 17 put him at 1-under par. Bucey, meanwhile, was 2-under through 14, but back-to-back bogeys left him even for the round.
No Chico State individual has ever won the regional crown. The team is aiming for its first regional title since 2004.