Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On a day when scores were high across the board the No. 12 University of Arkansas men's golf team went low moving from fifth place as a team into the lead at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Blessings on Friday. Senior Austin Cook carded a bogey free round of four-under par to put himself in a three-way tie for first individually.
The Razorbacks, the only team to shoot under par on Friday, shot a combined five-under par as a team to take their team total to three-under par. Illinois, who led after the first day, shot four-over par on Friday to finish 36 holes at two-under par, one stroke behind the Razorbacks. No. 4 Texas is at seven-over par as a team after a round of 10-over on Friday followed by No. 16 Oklahoma State (+14) and No. 28 Kent State (+15). The top five teams at the regional advance to the NCAA Championship.
"Our guys played great today," Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "Conditions and pin placements were tough today and that was reflected in the team scores. We were able to make shots and stay out of trouble for the most part and avoid the big numbers that hurt us on Thursday. Austin played a phenomenal round. No bogeys on a day like today is great golf and I could tell in warm ups that he was ready. Now we need to finish it out on Saturday and earn a spot at the NCAA Championship."
Rarely in trouble throughout the second round, Cook was able to help himself out the few times he did find some adversity. On the par five, 12th, Cook's second shot found a fairway bunker, but he calmly knocked it out on his next shot and landed the ball within 10 feet of the hole to make a birdie on a whole that could have been much worse. Cook was three-under par on the five par five holes and carded his fourth birdie on the par three, 240-yard 17th. Cook's round of 68 moved him from a tie for 11th up to a tie for first where he sits with Mario Clemens of SMU and Mitchell McLeroy of Stephen F. Austin. All three players are four-under par for the tournament.
Stepping up on day two was freshman Nicolas Echavarria who went from not scoring in day one to a two-under par score on Friday, shooting 70. Getting off to a fast start, Echavarria birdied two of his first three holes, but a lost tee shot on No. 4 ended in a double bogey putting him back at even par. He would bogey No. 9 to make the turn at one-over. On the back side, Echavarria was on point with just about every shot, sinking four birdie putts and making just a single bogey on No. 18. His second day score moved him from 44th overall into a tie for 17th.
Freshman Taylor Moore also played well for the Razorbacks on Friday as he carded his second round of even par to end the day tied for eighth individually. A pair of birdie-bogey combinations on the front nine placed him at the turn at even par. He would again sink two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine, taking advantage of the par five holes on the second half of the course to get to his final score.
SEC Champion Sebastian Cappelen battled back from a double bogey on the first hole of the day to shoot one-over par for the round. After his ill-fated first hole, Cappelen birdied two of his next three holes to get back to even par, but back-to-back bogeys had him back at two over. He made the turn at one-over par following a birdie on the par three, eighth, which preceded six straight pars. Back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and No. 16 were followed by a pair of bogeys to end the round at 73 placing the junior in a tie for 11th individually.
Sophomore Thomas Sorensen struggled with his shot for most of the day, leading the second-year player to a score of eight-over par, 80. Two birdies, seven bogeys and a triple bogey lined the Dane's card as he made the turn at three-over par before ending it at plus five for the final nine holes.
The Razorbacks begin play on Saturday at 8:40 a.m. from the first tee with players from Illinois and Texas as they seek the programs second NCAA Regional title in school history and a trip to the NCAA Championships.
Phil Pierce: Associate Media Relations