MOORESVILLE, N.C.--USC Aiken entered Tuesday’s second round of the 2008 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional in fifth place and trailing front-running Georgia College & State University by 12 strokes. The fourth-ranked Pacers, however, fired a one-under-par team total of 287 to make up eight shots on the Bobcats and move into second place. At eight-over-par with 18 holes to play, USC Aiken is in perfect striking distance for their sixth regional crown in seven years.
The 54-hole event is being contested at the 7,037 yard, par 72 Point Lake and Golf Club in Mooresville, N.C. Belmont Abbey is serving as the host for the event. Nestled on the north shore of Lake Norman, the course was designed by Greg Norman with more than two-thirds of the holes playing directly along or over the water.
USC Aiken, making the program’s 17th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, is the top seed in the Southeast Regional. The three-time NCAA Division II National Champions are competing against seven other teams, and alongside eight squads in the Atlantic Regional, making up the Southeast/Atlantic Super Regional. The Pacers won the regional five consecutive times from 2002 to 2006 until Columbus State ended USCA’s unprecedented reign last year.
Lander (+20) remained in third, 12 strokes back of the Pacers (+8), while Newberry (+21), Clayton State (+24), Carson-Newman (+26), Columbus State (+29), and Armstrong Atlantic State (+43) round out the field.
The Pacers picked up steam heading towards the turn, playing holes eight and nine a collective three-under-par. Jeff Goff birdied both holes to cap a three-birdie, one-bogey front nine to make the turn at two-under-par. The senior All-Conference standout carded birdies on the back at 12, 16, and 17 to finish at three-under-par 69, tying for the best round of the tournament. At even-par through 36 holes, Goff is in fifth place.
J.P. Solis handled his final four holes at one-under-par keyed by a birdie four on the par five 16th to finish at even-par 72 on his round. As a team, USC Aiken shot two-under-par over the final three holes to close within four of GCSU (+4). Their team total of 287 was the fourth best round by the Pacers this season.
Roberto Diaz stood at two-under-par through 15, but bogeys on 16 and 18 dropped the junior All-American back to even-par for the day. Diaz is tied for sixth with Solis at one-over-par 145.
Kevin Grady made the turn at three-over-par, but a pair of birdies on the back side got the sophomore to two-over-par 74 at the finish, as he is tied for 22nd at seven-over-par for the 36 holes. Freshman Ashley Smith struggled to an 81 and is 37th at 13-over-par.
First round leaders Juan Bialet of GCSU and Daniel Stanley of Newberry dropped to third and ninth after rounds of 74 and 78 respectively. Bialet’s teammate, Niclas Johansson, registered his second-straight 71 to move into a tie atop the leaderboard with Chris Wolfe of Armstrong Atlantic State, who’s 69 rocketed the PBC Player of the Year up from 10th position.
Following automatic bids handed out to the winners of the Atlantic and the Southeast Regionals after tomorrow’s final round, the next three lowest scores, regardless of region, will advance to the NCAA Championship on May 14-17 in Houston, Texas and hosted by Rice University.
USC Aiken will tee off in Wednesday’s final round from 9:30 AM to 10:06 AM and will play alongside GCSU and Belmont Abbey.