DURHAM, N.C. - The rains came at a good time for Augusta State's golf team in Friday's NCAA Championship. The Jaguars just hope too much damage hasn't already been done.
Augusta State was sinking fast, losing ground after making some big numbers in the 20 minutes before play was halted at 11:54 a.m. at Duke Golf Club. After nearly a three-hour delay, the third round was suspended. It will be completed this morning, followed by the 18-hole final round.
All of Augusta State's golfers were through at least 10 holes when they were called off the course. At 2-under par for the round and 2-over for the tournament, the Jaguars are in fifth place, 16 shots behind Arizona. The Wildcats are 7-under par with their last player having played through eight holes. Freshman Chris Nallen has played nine holes and is 7-under for the day after a 29.
Florida is 6-under par through eight holes and is six shots behind Arizona. Next is Clemson at 6-under through 14 and 13 back of the leader. Top-ranked Georgia is 14 back after being 3-under through 11 holes.
The 14th-ranked Jaguars were 11 shots back of Arizona only 20 minutes before the rains came. They gave five shots back to par in a hurry as Michael Webb made a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 11th hole for the second day in a row, and Jamie Elson followed with a bogey on the 10th hole.
Trouble also might be ahead for Augusta State's Oliver Wilson. Just before the siren sounded suspending play, he hit his tee shot into the woods on the 13th hole. No one saw it come down, said Wilson, who wasn't allowed to look for it once play was suspended.
"The main thing is, we can start afresh tomorrow," Elson said. "Today's done with."
"It's kind of good," Augusta State's Robert Duck said of the delay. "It will give Mike (Webb) a chance to regroup and go out and pick up some birdies on the closing holes."
Duck didn't want to stop, though. He's 4-under par through 13 holes and had birdied his previous three holes.
"When you're on a streak like that, you want to keep going," said Duck, the team's lone senior.
Rounding out the rest of the team, Wilson is 3-under par for the day through 12 holes, Elson is even par through 10 holes, Webb is 4-over through 11, and Jayce Stepp is 5-over through 13. As it stands, Stepp's round won't count, because each team plays five men and counts the low four scores.
The Jaguars' mistakes this week have resulted in double, triple and quadruple bogeys.
"We keep kicking ourselves by making these high numbers," Augusta State coach Jay Seawell said. "If we could cut out these 'others' and make bogeys instead of doubles, triple and quads, we'd be right up there with Arizona. We make enough birdies to play with anyone."
With 26 more holes today for the team, Augusta State thinks it can win the title.
"We're still in there with a great shot," Duck said. "Realistically, we have to post a really low number to catch Arizona. They're going great guns."
Seawell hasn't lost hope, either.
"We want to go and catch Arizona," Seawell said. "We sat down together when I got here three years ago with these same guys (with the exception of Wilson), and we had a dream of winning the national championship. Tomorrow will be the last time we'll be together. We're going to go out and leave it all on the golf course."
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.