DUPONT, Wash. - Heading into the third and final round of the NCAA Men's Golf South Central/West Regional at The Home Course, UC San Diego is in 16th place after showing improvement in Tuesday's second round of play.
UCSD boasted a six-shot betterment over Monday's opening round with a 3-over par 291 on the 7,073-yard course. The Tritons' two-round total stands at 588, 12-over par.
"Our guys worked on their short game as we asked them to and they definitely improved," said UCSD head coach Mike Wydra. "Clayton's (Yamaguchi) round was fantastic, he was one over on the par fives, and I can't say enough about Freddy (Palmer-Picard)."
Continuing to lead the 20-team field is sixth-ranked Cal State Monterey Bay, which shot a 2-under 286 today. The Otters are 11-under overall with a 565 total for the tournament. No. 10 Western Washington is in second, four strokes behind. No. 11 Grand Canyon and Colorado-Colorado Springs are tied for third, trailing CSUMB by six shots. Rounding out the top five is 24th-ranked Chico State, seven strokes behind the leader.
Colorado Springs' 6-under 282 was the low team round of the day.
Fredrik Palmer-Picard led the Tritons with his 3-under par 69, a career-best. He improved by seven strokes after finishing with a 4-over 76 in Monday's opening round, tying him for 78th place. The junior now sits in a tie for 28th following Tuesday's performance.
"The difference today was just being comfortable on the greens and comfortable with iron shots," said Palmer-Picard. "On the back nine, I hit a lot of good irons that ended up 10 feet from the hole and I made several putts. It was definitely a little softer out there, a little less wind to deal with. Especially for the first 13 or 14 holes, there was very little wind at all. You could really attack the pins - land it just short and it would bounce right up to the hole."
Two other Tritons saw marked improvements in their scores. Freshman Clayton Yamaguchi rebounded from a 3-over 75 Monday to shoot a 1-under 71 today, moving him up from a tie for 61st into a tie for 39th. Sophomore Jay Lim, who carded a 4-over 76 yesterday, finished with a 1-over 73, going from a tie for 78th into a tie for 64th.
"I hit the ball a lot better today and I putted much better, too," said Yamaguchi, who had just one bogey. "I kept the ball in play and rolled in some putts and it just translated to a better score. The course was a lot softer. It was hotter yesterday and the course really dried out, making it firm. It was more scorable today."
Junior Lewis Simon, who was UCSD's top competitor Monday with a 2-under 70, finished with a 6-over 78 Tuesday, dropping him from a tie for 11th into a tie for 56th. Classmate Jacob Williams also struggled in the second round, carding an 84, 12-over par. He is tied for 105th.
Taking over the individual lead Tuesday was Kevin Witte from Colorado-Colorado Springs. He fired a 5-under 67 and is 8-under overall with a two-round total of 136. Kyle Beard of Dallas Baptist and Dalen Yamauchi from Hawaii-Hilo are tied for second, just one stroke behind Witte.
Palmer-Picard totaled four birdies, 13 pars and just one bogey in round two. After starting the day with a bogey on the par-5 10th, he registered six straight pars followed by a birdie on 17 and a par on 18. He posted three birdies on the back nine, including back-to-back on seven and eight.
"There were some nerves I had to get over from yesterday" said the Walnut Creek native. "I was a little shaky over a couple of putts, missed a few short ones early and it affected me through the whole round. I did the same thing on the first hole today - missed a short one - but I stayed patient and rolled one in on the third hole for par and just got more comfortable as the day went on."
Entering the regional, Palmer-Picard had competed in just one tournament for the Tritons this season, tying for 25th of 87 golfers with a +16, 232 at the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational in mid-April. He played his way to Washington with strong results in several qualifiers held by the team.
"Freddy has been a hard worker for a long time and he deserves this kind of success," said Wydra.
Williams will be the first off the tee for UCSD Wednesday, starting at 8:20 a.m. He will be followed by Lim (8:30 a.m.), Simon (8:40 a.m.), Yamaguchi (8:50 a.m.) and Palmer-Picard (9 a.m.). They will start from hole 10 for the second straight day.
The top five team finishers and the top two individuals from non-qualifying teams will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships on May 20-24 in Hershey, Pa.
Regional play can be followed with live scoring, with scores updated after every three holes.
-- UCSDtritons.com --