May 16, 2014
The Vanderbilt men's golf team took the term "Moving Day" to a new level on Friday in the second round of the San Antonio Regional, carding a course-record 273 as a team and moving from ninth to second on the team leader board with a two-round score of 568 (295-273). The Commodores trail first-place Georgia by two shots heading into the final round on Saturday.
The Commodores trailed the Bulldogs, who was also atop the team standings after the first round, by 14 shots heading into today's play, but rallied behind a pair of 67's from senior Charlie Ewing and junior Hunter Stewart to vault into contention for the regional championship. The Commodores also counted a 69 from junior Jordan Janico and a 70 from sophomore Carson Jacobs. Junior Ben Fogler also carded a solid even-par round of 72 on Friday at the Briggs Ranch Golf Course.
Vanderbilt's 273 on Friday set a new Briggs Ranch collegiate team scoring record, and the total is the fifth-best single-round team score in program history. The Commodores' back nine performance contributed mightily to the record-setting day, with Vanderbilt's counters going a combined 11-under par in the stretch.
"It was a great day," said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh. "I told the guys yesterday afternoon that we were really close to playing really good. Just clean up the simple mistakes and focus on doing the simple things better, and that's what they did today. It's to their credit. This is a player's time of year. I'm really proud of Jordan and Carson. I challenged those guys last night to go out and lead us and start the charge, and they did. I was really proud of them. But, it was a team effort. Obviously, what Hunter and Charlie did on the back nine was awesome."
Ewing and Stewart are both tied for fifth in the individual standings with a two-round score of 140 to lead all Vanderbilt players.
Ewing carded eight birdies in his round on Friday, including birdies on his final four holes of the day.
"I felt like I played pretty solid all day," said Ewing. "I turned at three-under par, and I had a ruling question on the first hole (the team's 10th) and it kind of got me out of sync, and I didn't really respond to us falling behind pace well, and made a couple of bogeys to get back to one-under par. But, I live and die with my putter, and it caught fire and I made some important putts and one-putted my last six or seven holes on the back nine. It was really important for me to make same of those putts and allowed me to get some momentum and make those birdies coming in."
Stewart posted four birdies and an eagle in his second time around the Briggs Ranch course, with two of those birdies and the eagle coming on his back nine.
"I could kind of sense the momentum out there," said Stewart. "Even though Ben shot even-par and we threw out his score, I could see he was doing good things. Coach was all pumped out on five when I saw him and I could sense we were playing well and it gave me some confidence to be aggressive and make a few birdies down the stretch.
"I got really aggressive on number four and hit a driver into the green side bunker and got it up and down for a birdie, and then birdied the par five, fifth. I bombed a drive on seven and then only had a five iron in, and I hit it to six feet and was able to convert it. I really got hot there, and really settled down for a par on the eighth. I was really proud of that more than anything else, making that 10-footer for par. I could sense it out there all day, and I could sense it this morning. Guys were bringing it."
Janico posted five birdies in his round on Friday, and helped the Commodores get out of the gate fast.
"I rolled it really well, and made a lot of putts, especially for par," said Janico. "It's something Coach Smith and I worked on today - leaving ourselves in good spots and trying to get the ball in the hole. I think today I just kept it in front of me. We talked a lot last night about just doing the little things correctly and for us, that meant not making any double bogeys out here. Coach really challenged us to think it through today and make smart decisions and I think for me, that was the difference."
Vanderbilt trails Georgia by two shots and holds a two-shot lead on third-place SMU. The Commodores are also 10 shots clear of the fifth-place spot, the cut line to advance to the NCAA Championship, which takes place May 23 through May 28 at the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
"You have to play all 18 holes and you have to play all three days," said Limbaugh. "It's a three-round fight. We played really well in the second round, and tomorrow is a new day with a new opportunity.
The third and final round concludes on Saturday in San Antonio.