NORTH AUGUSTA ---Alabama-Birmingham's James Williams found himself in the middle of the pack after an up-and-down first round of singles play at the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship. But after five spectacular tee shots to open the second round, he's in a position to win the title.
Williams, a 21-year-old native of Little Rock, Ark., landed each of his first five throws within a foot of the cage for easy birdies and finished the round at 6-under 48. He takes a one-shot lead over Western Illinois' Scott Parik and Augusta State's Jason Lynn into today's final two rounds of singles play.
"I probably could have played better throughout the day, but those five birdies definitely elevated me to the top of the leaderboard," Williams said.
After shooting 4-under 50 in the first round, Williams matched the low score of the second round to move into position for his first national championship.
Williams believes he will need to shoot at least 15-under in the next two rounds to stay within reach of the win. He says he's looking forward to the pressure.
"I'm sure that there will be pressure, but most good players thrive off pressure," he said.
Williams and his Blazers teammates are tied with defending champion Mississippi State for fourth place in the team competition after four rounds. Two doubles rounds were played Thursday.
The Blazers are 13 shots behind Western Illinois. The Leathernecks, who are 42-under for the tournament, hold a three-stroke advantage over Oregon.
Parik helped lead Western Illinois to the front with rounds of 49 and 50. The Leathernecks were 10-under as a team in the fourth round.
After struggling in the third round, Augusta State fired the lowest team score of the tournament in the fourth, shooting 20-under to sit in third place at 35-under.
Team titles will be decided Sunday.
The Jaguars have three of the top-six individuals: Lynn, who is 9-under (99); Lee Jones, fourth at 7-under (101); and Patrick May, tied for fifth at 5-under (103).
Defending individual champion Drew Davis, of Mississippi State, is tied for eighth at 4-under (104).
Davis said he and his Bulldog teammates have been "living the high life" since last year's triumph, with the team garnering increased exposure around Starkville, Miss.
He said this year's tournament has a different feel to it now that Mississippi State can no longer play the role of underdog.
"There's a lot more pressure this year," he said. "Last year, we're a nobody and this year everyone is head-hunting for us."