Mocs Golf Team in Second Place Going Into Final Round of Auburn Regional
(gomocs.com) AUBURN, Ala.—The Chattanooga Mocs shot 5-over 293 on day two of the NCAA Auburn Regionals. It was a gutsy effort which ended with the squad in second place at level par with 18 holes to play at Auburn University Club.
The Mocs 576 is one behind the host 13th-ranked Auburn with 575 (-1). The Tigers matched UTC’s low round of the event with 5-under 283. The duo is followed by No. 24 Colorado State at 2 over. The three teams played together in round two and match wits again during Wednesday’s final 18.
No. 1 Vanderbilt (580) is fourth ahead of No. 25 Ohio State (587) in the coveted fifth spot. The top 5 teams advance. Indiana is just one shot off the cutline at 588 with Washington and TCU tied at 590. No. 12 Tennessee is eight off the 5th-place pace in ninth with 595.
It was an uneasy start for the Mocs. The group was 7 under at the turn in round one but found the tough AUC layout unrelenting going out at 4 over. They were undaunted as the leaderboard ticker flickered.
Birdies, which were in short supply on the front, came on the backside along with timely eagles from Braedon Wear on 12 and next by Samuel Espinosa on 13. The Mocs clawed their way through a brutal finishing set to put themselves 12 ahead of sixth with 18 to play. Their 1 under play over the last four holes was better than the entire field ahead of the Hoosiers’ level-par work.
“This is a hard golf course,” Coach Blaine Woodruff shared. “This is regionals, it’s hard…it doesn’t matter how good your team is. It’s a hard week, it’s a lot of high stress and no matter how much you talk about trying to kind of stay in the moment and control what you can control, everybody knows what’s at stake.
“That was my takeaway. We got off to a little bit of a rocky front nine,” he continued. “It’s understandable. I mean, we slept on the lead in our first regional in nine years and none of these guys have ever experienced it before; so totally understand the nerves. Something that we’ve discussed all year is just fighting and valuing every shot. Every one of our guys were fighting for everything, and we had a heckuva back nine to keep us right in it and have a chance to win this thing.
“There’s no faking it out here on this course. You have to hit golf shots especially on those last four or five six holes, and, you know, I think that that’s going to give them some confidence today.”
John Houk continued to lead the way with a 1-under 71. Garrett Engle was close behind with 73, while Paul Conroy added 74 and Espinosa a 75 for the team total. Wear had the drop score of 77.
Houk is tied for second overall at 5 under, 139. Engle is also nestled in the top 10 in a tie for eighth with 1 under. Conroy is just outside tied for 12th at 145. Espinosa is next at 149, while Wear heads into the final round with 155.
Colorado State’s Christoph Bleier is the individual leader. His 7-under 137 is two clear of Houk and Auburn’s Brendan Valdes. According to Houk, knowing his coach (Woodruff) has been in this situation at Pepperdine brings a steadying, almost peaceful factor for team as the playbook to advance is clearly on his bookshelf.
“Experience is big here,” he began. “There are a lot of teams in the top 5 and close by that have all been here before. We haven’t, but coach has, and yeah that’s definitely gonna help us a lot. He’s going to help us stay patient and stick to our game plan.”
The Mocs take to the first tee Wednesday again at 9 a.m., Eastern Time. The familiar faces of the Tigers and Rams await.
NCAA Championships – Auburn Regionals
May 15-17 (Mon-Wed) | Auburn, Ala. | 54 holes (18 per day)
2nd of 13: 283-293=576 (E)
9:44 am (ET) – John Houk: T2, 68-71=139 (-5)
9:33 – Garrett Engle: T8, 70-73=143 (-1)
9:22 – Paul Conroy: T12, 71-74=145 (+1)
9:11 – Samuel Espinosa: T30, 74-75=149 (+5)
9:00 – Braedon Wear: T59, 78-77=155 (+11)
Alternate: Alec Cobb
– The Mocs now have 98 par or better cards this season after Houk’s 71 today. Entered the event with the school record already secured during final round of the SoCon Championships. Previous mark was 91 by the 2007-08 squad that completed the season No. 12 in the country.
– 293 (+5) is tied for the fourth-highest score this campaign. The other time was opening the Hoosier Collegiate where the squad led for 54 holes claiming a fourth title. The school record for wins is five set by that noteworthy 2007-08 bunch. 5 over is just the 14th time in 35 rounds shooting over par.
– Houk is 28 under for his last 11 cards. That’s works to a 69.18 scoring average over that stretch.
University Cub | Par 72 | 7,591 yards
Top 10 Teams
1 – (13) Auburn: 292-283=575 (-1)
2 – (48) Chattanooga: 283-293=576 (E)
3 – (24) Colorado State: 285-293=578 (+2)
4 – (1) Vanderbilt: 294-286=580 (+4)
5 – (25) Ohio State: 294-293=587 (+11)
6 – (62) Indiana: 297-291=588 (+12)
T7 – (36) Washington: 297-293=590 (+14)
T7 – (37) TCU: 292-298=590 (+14)
9 – (12) Tennessee: 297-298=595 (+19)
10 – (49) Houston: 300-301=601 (+25)
Team Finishes (13 appearances)
Win (1): 2012
Advance (4): 1993 (Neil Connolly), 2009, 2012, 2014 (Chris Robb)
2012: Stephan Jaeger – 70-67-66=203 (-13)
Top 10s (4)
1993: T5, Neil Connolly – 70-74-69=213
2012: 1, Stephan Jaeger – 70-67-66=203 (-13)
2012: T3, Steven Fox – 76-64-71=211 (-5)
2014: T4, Chris Robb – 67-72-73=212 (+2)