Durham, N.C. --- There were two matters on the minds of the golf
coaches and players who sought shelter from the rain in the lobby
of the host Washington Duke Hotel: the weather and the Arizona golf
team. There was nothing they could do about the weather and very
little they could do about the Wildcats.
The heavy rains that soaked the Carolinas on Friday interrupted the NCAA Golf Championships. After a three-hour wait that began at lunch time and no imminent break in the weather, the golf committee decided to halt play and finish the tournament today. Players will attempt to complete their third rounds this morning at 7:30 and begin the final round by 9 a.m.
While it appears the weather may break enough to allow completion of 72 holes, it may be too late to help the state's three local teams. Georgia, Augusta State and Georgia Tech remain in contention, but it won't be easy for any of them to overtake the Wildcats.
"We've got to play well and Arizona has to go back to the field," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "If they keep playing like that, they're going to be hard to catch."
Arizona was 14-under par when play stopped, thanks largely to a front-nine 29 posted by freshman Chris Nallen. Florida, gamely trying to stay in the hunt, was at 8-under. Clemson, which began the day 7-over, had knocked their score to 1-under before the rain.
No. 1-ranked Georgia is in fourth place at 1-over. Erik Compton was 3-under through 12 holes and Ryan Hybl was 2-under after making a birdie at 11. Bryant Odom was even through 13.
"It all boils down to us playing the golf course and not worrying about what everybody else is doing," Haack said. "If we get it going early, it could spill over to the rest of the day."
Georgia Tech is tied for eighth at 7-over. Bryce Molder, the nation's No. 1-ranked player, finally got his game going on Friday. Molder was 4-under through 11 holes and Troy Matteson was even though 13. But inconsistency continued to plague the Yellow Jackets.
"We're still making too many mistakes," Tech coach Bruce Heppler said. "We're having to count two or three double bogeys. We've had some great rounds this year and it may take a crazy round to do it, but we'll keep playing to the end."
Augusta State is in fifth place at 2-over. Robert Duck was 4-under for the day, rolling in his third straight birdie at 13 before play was halted. Oliver Wilson was 3-under through 12.
"There's still a lot of golf to be played and we've showed we have the ability to make some birdies all week," Augusta State coach Jay Seawell said. "I thought the winner might be in single digits, but I don't think Arizona is going backward very much."
Arizona wasn't considered a main contender before the tournament. The Wildcats are ranked seventh, won only one tournament this spring, but finished second in the NCAA West Regional. Sophomore Rick Barnes, the individual leader at 11-under, and Nallen, who had a first-round 66, have shown no signs to giving ground.
"We'll go out and finish these nine holes and then take an hour break and get back at it," Arizona coach Rick LaRose said. "It would be nice to have only 18 to go, but you can't control the weather."