SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — After a stormy opening round forced abrupt delays on Friday, a full day of sunshine soaked the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at Rich Harvest Farms as UNLV and Texas’ Scottie Scheffler moved atop the leaderboards.
While the field finished its first round in the morning and near perfect conditions existed throughout the day, 3,250 fans flocked to the course, leading to scenes on the fairways and putting greens that felt like the PGA Tour with roars and cheers sporadically echoing across the 1,800 acre course.
Temperatures in the 80s and winds near idle speed made for prime scoring conditions in the morning and early afternoon, allowing 17 teams to post rounds below par.
While Ole Miss’ Braden Thornberry tied the collegiate course record at 66 yesterday, Florida State’s Harry Ellis and UCF’s Kyler Tate matched the feat on Saturday as Ellis carded six birdies and 12 pars while Tate tallied five birdies and followed up his 17th hole bogey with an eagle on 18.
LSU improved nine spots in the standings to finish in a tie for seventh with a day-best 277 (-11). UNLV was day’s winner, however, as the Rebels moved into first place in the team standings at -14 with a one-stroke lead over second place Oklahoma following its second-round 279 (-9).
Shintaro Ban carded a 68 (-4) to lead UNLV in the round, while Harry Hall, Taylor Montgomery and John Oda round out the scorers, finishing at even par or better. Oda recorded a 69 (-3), followed by Montgomery’s 70 (-2).
While Ban led the group, UNLV coach Dwaine Knight pointed to the groups play on No. 17, a hole that has caused problems for the entire field and is statistically ranked the most difficult so far this tournament.
"It's a hard shot and you just have to really hit a really good shot there and we seemed to have pulled it off yesterday and today. The golf course, you can accept and challenge but you can really pay the price also. The first two days here we've been able to make some birdies where some other teams kind of struggled through that,” Knight said.
Also taking advantage of the scoring conditions was Scheffler, who finished 11 holes during the rain soaked opening round. The 2016 U.S. Open participant shot 2-under in his final eight holes to record a 68 (-4) in the round.
Scheffler repeated in the afternoon with another 68 (-4), entering the clubhouse tied for first with many of the teams still on the course. His score held at day’s end as the field dropped off, putting the junior in sole possession of first place.
Finding a rhythm of play was a key in Scheffler’s eyes as inclement weather yesterday forced him out of sync he said.
“It was kind of a weird [first] round," he said. "We played four holes, waited an hour, played another hole, waited another hour and a half then played six more and finished up this morning. I was able to get into more of a flow today.”
After completing the first round in the morning, Vanderbilt closed with a team-best score of -10 as all four scorers finished under par, paced by Matthias Schwab’s 67 (-5) which put him in a tie for second entering the second round. Schwab is in a four-way tie for second with 137 (-7).
The third round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship will tee off at 6:45 a.m. CT Sunday morning. Follow team and individual results at www.ncaa.com/2017-di-mens-golf-leaderboard and for tournament central news, www.niuhuskies.com.