After opening with rounds in the 80s, Henrik Norlander and Olle Bengtsson rebounded in a big way Wednesday in the second round of the NCAA Division I Golf Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
Norlander, a two-time All-American, bounced back from 8-over-par 80 with 69. Bengtsson, whose opening 86 didn't count against the team, posted a smooth 75 that not only counted but also kept the Jaguars right in the mix.
Augusta State, the defending national champion, posted a second-consecutive 6-over-par 294 to climb from ninth place to seventh. The top eight teams in the 30-team field after the final round of stroke play today advance to the match play quarterfinals Friday.
The Jaguars hold a slim two-shot lead over Texas A&M (301) and Ohio State (299), and a four-shot lead over Southern Cal (289). Augusta State will be paired with the Aggies and Buckeyes and go off the No. 10 tee today, starting at 1:50 p.m.
"After two days, we have a chance," Jaguars coach Josh Gregory said. "That's all you can ask for. We haven't played well yet. So that's encouraging. We're a very good final-round team, and we're not close to putting it all together yet.
"I feel good about our chances tomorrow, I really do."
Georgia Tech carded 290 and leads at 3-under 573, while UCLA (288) is one shot back. Illinois (287) is five shots back in third, while Georgia (288) trails by six and Alabama (292) by seven. Host Oklahoma State shot 293 and is 12 shots behind the Yellow Jackets.
LSU's John Peterson fired 7-under-par 65 and leads the individual competition at 5-under 139. Georgia Tech's James White (73) is one shot back, while Illinois' Luke Guthrie (69), UCLA's Patrick Cantlay (69) and Georgia's Harris English (71) all trail by two.
Augusta State's Patrick Reed entered the day tied for third after a first-round 69. But trouble with his driver in the second round led to four bogeys on a six-hole stretch on the front nine en route to 75. He is tied for 14th place at even-par.
The Jaguars, who began the second round on the 10th tee, rode a wild roller-coaster throughout the day before finishing strong. Reed closed with birdie at the par-5 ninth. Later, Carter Newman added a birdie at No. 9 for another 75. Mitch Krywulycz parred the final hole for a non-counting 81.
Norlander was the story of the day for Augusta State. After posting just his third career round in the 80s, he went to the driving range Tuesday evening and took off his shoes. In bare feet, he hit balls and worked on improving his balance -- stopping his hips from spinning out.
The extra work paid off. He rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 11 and chipped in from 30 feet two holes later. Then, Norlander fired his approach at the par-5 14th to 6 inches for a kick-in birdie that moved him to 3-under on the round.
"Yesterday, everything was just totally off -- putting, rhythm," he said. "Stupid bogeys. I was just kind of scared over every shot.
"It feels nice to come back after 80. I needed to play well."
While Norlander got off to a great start his teammates didn't. Krywulycz, who opened with 71, sliced his opening drive, took triple bogey and watched his round unravel.
Playing in his first NCAA Championship, Bengtsson continued his poor play. At No. 16, his seventh hole, he hooked his tee shot. Worried he wouldn't find the ball -- he didn't -- Bengtsson threw down a provisional ball and hit it without thinking.
"That second shot was really good," he said. "After that, I just thought about that and to swing aggressive."
Though he double-bogeyed No. 16 to fall to 5-over, Bengtsson rallied with a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and then a 15-foot birdie at No. 18. At 3-over, he was back in the game. Bengtsson had no idea Krywulycz was struggling behind him.
"I saw we were doing all right on the scoreboard," he said. "I thought everyone was playing pretty good and that I wasn't going to count again today."
On Tuesday Krywulycz hit 13 of 14 fairways, but struggled Wednesday off the tee and sat at 10-over through 11. But suddenly, he found his game. Krywulycz shot 1-under on the final seven holes to give himself momentum as he left the course.
"He'll be fine," Gregory said. "His attitude is a lot better. He looked positive coming off the course."
As he walked off, Krywulycz leaned over to Gregory.
"I've got something for you tomorrow, coach," Krywulycz said, "so don't worry."