HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. -- There is a very competitive golf tournament going on in Florida this week – for second place.

Oglethorpe continued its run to the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship on Thursday, extending its lead to 16 shots with one round to play at Mission Inn Resort & Club. The Stormy Petrels, also champions in 2009, shot a third-round 290 on the difficult El Campeon 7001-yard layout and sit at 3-over for the week.

Freshman Anthony Maccaglia and sophomore Hayden Jones led the way again and are two of just three players under par for the week.

“Fourteen with two days to go wasn’t safe and 16 with one day to go is safer, but still [Methodist] is a very good program who has 10 championships and we have one,” Oglethorpe head coach Jim Owen said. “Get back with me after the turn tomorrow. We have to get through that front nine again.”

DIII MEN'S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Moore: Oglethorpe’s Maccaglia holds lead
Moore: Layout differences show early
Moore: Maccaglia tied for first after day one
Moore: Transylvania looks to regroup
• Day Two: Recap
• Day One: Recap
Leaderboard: Team | Individual

Thursday saw the Stormy Petrels combine to go 9-over on the front nine. But they responded with a 7-under back nine that included a pair of double bogeys. At one point Oglethorpe was under par.

Methodist shot a solid round of 4-over 292 in the third round, getting a stellar round of 69 from Mike Duncan, who had seven birdies on the day.

“I made a couple of sloppy bogeys on 11 and 12 but never got mad and just kept rolling my putts,” Duncan said. “That was probably the best I’ve putted all year.”

The third member of the final grouping on Friday will be Transylvania, who has rallied from an opening day 309 to shoot rounds of 288 and 296.

“Our goal coming here was to be in that final group,” Pioneer senior Justin Tereshko said. “And we have accomplished that goal. Oglethorpe has played really well all week. It is not out of the realm of possibilities but we are going to really have to play well on Friday and they are going to have to maybe stumble a little bit.”

Transylvania will start the final round 25 shots behind the leader and nine shots behind Methodist.

Redlands, at 29-over after a good round of 297 on Thursday, will start the final day in fourth with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, at 32-over, rounding out the top five.

Oglethorpe has been head-and-shoulders better than everybody this week.

“To play the way they have played this week, it’s tough to beat that,” Transylvania head coach Brian Lane said.

Maccaglia has been lights out. At 9-under through 54 holes the freshman is five strokes away from the Division III record of 14-under posted by Centre College’s Chris Morris, the medalist in 2011.

Oglethorpe also pulled off the double in 2009, winning the team title by four shots against La Verne and crowning Olafur Loftsson as medalist.

“We feel confident as a team right now,” Maccaglia said. “Today there was some pressure, and [Friday] there will probably be a little more. But we’ve handled it pretty well so far.”

“[Maccaglia] just continues to play so well,” Owen said. “But the key maybe to our team right now is Hayden Jones. With the way he is playing we have gone from a top-10 team to obviously a team that can win a national championship. Everybody has contributed this week and the kids are having fun out there and that is what really counts.”

Matt Rebitch is tied for 12th after three rounds, posting scores of 73-72-76. Anthony Amodeo is tied for 45th with rounds of 75-79-74. Eric Quinn struggled to an 81 on Thursday, but shot a solid 73 on the first day. Were it not for a disastrous nine on his scorecard on Wednesday he too might be among the top 50.

If the Stormy Petrels lift the trophy on Friday afternoon, thoughts of a nine will be long forgotten.