Alabama maintains lead
UCLA holds steady, trails Crimson Tide by four strokes
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Second-ranked Alabama finished the morning flight with a 3-over-par round of 287 for a 36-hole total of 4-over 572 on the 7,292-yard, par-71 Riviera Country Club on Wednesday.
Alabama has a four-shot lead ahead of UCLA, who also carded a 287 in round two. Oklahoma and Florida State are currently on the course with solid rounds in progress and are at 8-over par in a tie for second with the Bruins.
The field will be cut to eight teams after the third round Thursday. The national champion will then be determined on Sunday after three rounds of match play.
"I feel really good about the round," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "I didn't realize the golf course was playing that hard until I looked at a scoreboard on 14. I was really proud of the guys. I feel like they grinded out a nice round today, when it was easy not too."
Sophomore Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide individually on Wednesday with a 3-under-par 68. It was the low round of the morning flight and should have the Houston, Texas, native inside the top 10 at the end of play Wednesday.
"A day like today, things can definitely get away from you," Seawell said. "That is where Cory [Whitsett] stepping up with a 3-under, those are the things that change rounds. Our guys in the back were grinding, but they were three or four over par most of the day. To have a guy shoot 68 today, that was a huge help."
Whitsett made five birdies and two bogeys on his day and keyed his round with a birdie on the 166-yard, par-3 16th hole. He then followed with a birdie on the par-5 17th with an impressive up-and-down from the green-side bunker.
"The birdie I made on 16 was important for me," Whitsett said following the round. "I hit a good tee shot on 15, but just barely caught that right bunker and made bogey. The round could have gone one of two ways at that point. It was nice to stick a shot in there close [on 16], about eight feet, and make it."
Whitsett was joined in red numbers by freshman Justin Thomas, who carded his second straight 1-under-par 70. Thomas should be in the top five by the completion of the second round at 2-under 140.
Thomas got off to a quick start on the front nine with birdies on the second, third, eighth and ninth holes to make the turn at 4-under 31. He sandwiched a birdie in between two bogeys on the par-5 11th hole before making double bogey on the 14th and bogey on the 15th. Thomas returned to red numbers with a birdie on the 17th hole.
Senior Hunter Hamrick fired his second straight 2-over 73 that was capped by birdie on the par-5, 590-yard 17th hole. He is 4-over 146 after 36 holes. Scott Strohmeyer shot 5-over 76 to count as the Tide's fourth score while Bobby Wyatt was the drop score at 6-over 77.