STILLWATER, Okla. – Through 36 holes at the NCAA Championship, there’s a surprise first-place team--Texas Tech, after the Red Raiders put together back-to-back under-par rounds at Karsten Creek, in Stillwater, Okla.
The Red Raiders (-5) have a one shot lead over the host team, No. 1 Oklahoma State, and a two-shot lead over third-place No. 6 Alabama. Tech and Oklahoma State are the only two teams in the field to go under-par in both rounds to this point.
More importantly, Tech is 14 shots clear of Sunday’s cutline, where the field shrinks to 15 teams, and the Red Raiders are also nine shots clear of Monday’s cut for match play, where the field will shrink to eight teams.
“It’s hard not to get excited about having a lead through 36 holes,” Tech head coach Greg Sands said. “However, we know it’s a long tournament and 36 more holes on this course means we have to buckle down and continue to do the things we’re doing.”
After the first round was shortened due to darkness, Tech teed off at 7 a.m. to continue the opening 18 holes, and the Red Raiders picked up where they left off on Friday. Ivan Ramirez and Adam Blomme each birdied 17, Hurly Long birdied Nos. 14 and 16 and Kyle Hogan birdied No. 18 to help Tech finish the first round with a -4 284, four shots off the lead.
Ramirez ended up polishing off an opening-round 67, while Long carded a 69.
Tech played the back nine well again to start round two, going 4-under collectively. The Red Raiders logged seven birdies on holes 16-18, four of which came on No. 18 alone. After a bit of a rollercoaster ride on holes 1-8, which included everything from Sandy Scott getting eagle on No. 1 and then chipping in for birdie on No. 2, to seven bogeys on holes 5 and 6, Tech registered four birdies on No. 9 to finish the day in the lead, at -5.
Blomme and Long each led the way in round two, with 1-under 71s. Sandy Scott shot a 1-over 73 and Ramirez turned in a 72 to stay at -5.
So far, the back nine has seemed to play more difficult for most teams, but Tech has gone 6-under on holes 10-18 between the first two rounds.
“We’re certainly playing some of the harder holes out here really well,” Sands said. “You’ll obviously have rough patches on this course and we had some today, but that’s just going to happen out here. We would love to have a few of those back, but you just have to move on to the next shot, and that’s what we’ve been doing. I’m really proud of what I’ve seen so far.”
Tech has the most eagles of any team in the field (3), is tied for the most birdies (39) and Ramirez leads the tournament field with 12 birdies, individually.
Individually, Ramirez is tied for second place at 5-under, and Long is on his heels in eighth, at -4. Adam Blomme joins them in the top 40 at +1, tied for 38th.
As the 36-hole leader, Tech will play in tomorrow’s featured group, along with Oklahoma State and Alabama. The Red Raiders will tee off at 7 a.m. CT, off No. 1.
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