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Wayne Cavadi | | May 31, 2015

Brewing its own storm

Vanderbilt 5-31 The Commodores tore up the back nine (-8) to make up for its rough front nine (+7).

BRADENTON, Fla. -- There were only supposed to be 15 teams left heading into the hunt on the way to Day 4 of the DI Men’s Golf Championships on Monday. Weather has changed that, however, as Day 3 ended with suspension of play.

Georgia currently reclaimed the top spot on the leaderboard sitting at 1-over. UCLA continued its climb up the leaderboard after its impressive 8-under in the morning session. Texas still has several holes left, but was shooting 6-under to propel themselves eight spots up the leaderboard into sole possession of sixth place.

And then, there was Vanderbilt.

The Commodores were falling fast in their front nine. After shooting a 7-over, they plummeted dangerously close to the cut line. Something in the air changed. There wasn’t simply a storm brewing in the skies, but Vanderbilt had its own storm coming.

They were one of six teams to cross the finish line before the sirens called everyone off the course, and they did it in remarkable fashion. Vanderbilt combined to shoot an 8-under, wiping out the 7-shot deficit it gave themselves on the front nine, finishing 1-under on the day and moving into sole possession of fifth place at 8-over after three rounds.

The Commodores has become one of the comeback stories of the tournament, as they simply refuse to surrender. They came out of the opening round at 13-over but moved up the leaderboard on Day 2 with a combined 4-under effort. When they looked defeated on Sunday, they turned it around quickly.

“Coach instills that in us,” Hunter Stewart said of his team’s resiliency. “You rather pack your bags and quit playing for our team if you are going to quit in a round on this team."

Much like Saturday, Stewart -- the No. 3 golfer in the field -- led the charge when they turned the corner for the back nine. But he wasn’t alone as it was an all-out team effort.

“I made a 15-footer for par at 11 and I was 4-over at the time and it was just nice to see a putt go in," Stewart said. "It was a confidence booster and I was able to carry that through the rest of the day and put in a lot of nice putts on my last seven holes."

Now, Vanderbilt is heading into Day 4 atop the leaderboard. Stewart is currently tied for 7th in the individual scoring as he goes for his own title. But don’t tell him that.

“Tomorrow is all about the team,” Stewart said, “it’s why we’re here. That’s the main focus for tomorrow. Have a good game plan, and pick the right shots for our team competition. I’m not even worried about the individual leaderboard. I haven’t looked all week, I don’t plan on looking, I don’t really get too caught up in that. I know that my team is going to have a nice round for me tomorrow and that’s what I’m going to try to do as well.”

Round 3 will be completed at 7 a.m. ET on Monday. Round 4, which will cut the remaining 15 teams down to a field of 8 for the final two days, is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET.

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