Courier sports staff
---- — LUBBOCK, Texas — With so many shots separating his team from tournament leader Midland, Indian Hills head golf coach Mike Hagen figured it would take a very low round to catch up.
”Getting off to that tough start and digging ourselves a hole (to start the tournament) really hurt ourselves,” Hagen said entering Thursday’s third round of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament with his Warriors trailing by 25 shots after two rounds. “We felt like we needed to shoot 12 or 14 under par to be in it.”
Hagen was certainly right about the type of score it took to not only catch, but pass Midland atop the leaderboard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Hagen’s team that fired the round, or rounds, that would establish a brand new set of leaders at the Rawls Course in West Texas.
Odessa College, for the first time in the tournament, will sleep on the lead as the second-ranked Wranglers fired one of three double-digit sub-par rounds on an extreme version of ‘moving’ day at the national tourney. The 10-under par 278 third-round moved Odessa into the lead by one shot over top-ranked Central Ala., who went from the middle of the pack to second place thanks to an incredible 16-under-par 272 total.
Sixth-ranked Scottsdale also moved into the mix, firing a 12-under 276 to move to five-over for the tournament through three rounds. Brevard, who started the day just four shots ahead of IHCC, also moved into the top five by shooting a 276 of their own to move within six shots of the lead.
”Brevard was only a few shots ahead of us at the start of the day, now they’re a few shots out of the lead,” Hagen said.
While all those scores moved so many teams around them into contention, Indian Hills missed out on their opportunity to significantly cut into its deficit. IHCC settled for a one-over 289, its best round yet of the tournament, to move up just four spots to 12th place while remaining 23 shots out of first with one round to go.
”We’ve played better every day, but we left so many opportunities out there,” Hagen said. “I don’t think we could have hit 16 under par, but seven or eight under was not out of the question for us.”
”We couldn’t get balls up and down. We couldn’t make simple putts and we certainly haven’t taken advantage of the par fives. That’s why we shot one over and why the leaders shot 12 and 16 under par.”
Sophomore William White, the top Warrior golfer throughout this national tournament, became the first Warrior golfer to move into red figures. The Waukegan, Ill., native shot a one-under 71 on Thursday to move to one-under for the tournament, leaving White four shots out of a five-way tie for first place.
For Hagen and the two-time defending national champion Warriors, today’s final round may be more a matter of playing for pride than being able to somehow win a third-straight title in a very improbable fashion. After seeing what a low round can do, including create a 23-shot turnaround as it did on Thursday, Hagen hopes his team’s best 18 holes may somehow still be enough
”We’re going to try to go out there and finish on a high note. We’re going to try and post the lowest number possible and see where that puts us,” Hagen said. “It’s a long shot to win it, but if you post a really good score you can just sit back and put that pressure on the final groups.”
NJCAA Division I Men’s National Golf Tournament, Third Round
At The Rawls Course, Lubbock, Texas
Team scoring — 1. Odessa 291-297-278-866, 2. Central Alabama 299-296-272-867, 3. Scottsdale 295-298-276-869, 4. McLennan 294-284-292-870, T5. Johnson County 296-289-287-872, T5. Brevard 299-297-276-872, 7. Wallace State 298-286-290-874, 8. Iowa Western 295-289-291-875, 9. Midland 291-284-301-876, 10. New Mexico Junior College 303-296-279-878, 11. Darton 300-295-289-889, 12. Indian Hills 304-296-289-889, T13. Meridian 307-290-296-893, T13. Dodge City 307-291-295-893, 15. Hutchinson 302-296-296-894, 16. USC-Lancaster 297-303-295-895, 17. Western Texas 307-290-302-899, T18. Wake Tech 303-303-295-901, T18. Eastern Arizona 306-299-296-901, 20. Garden City 302-299-303-904, 21. Faulkner State 307-300-298-905, 22. North Idaho 309-299-300-908, 23. Pima 309-304-298-911, 24. Trinidad State 317-300-296-913
Leaders — Alex Forristal (Johnston County) 69-71-71-211, Keith Greene (Brevard) 73-72-66-211, Alex Mahlik (Central Alabama) 70-75-66-211, T.J. Morgan (Meridian) 76-68-67-211 and Robert Reuter (Scottsdale) 70-74-67-211.
Sixth place — Andrew Johnson (McLennan) 71-71-70-212.
IHCC individuals — T11. William White 74-70-71-215, T55. Connor Peck 75-75-74-224, T72. Mitch Tucker 79-76-72-227, T86. Ben Ludlam 80-75-73-228, T112. Kevin Workman 76-86-73-235.