TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the second round of the 54-hole Tallahassee Regional, being played at the scoring-friendly Golden Eagle Country Club, the Oklahoma men stood still Friday on the 6.965-yard, par 72 layout. And still, the 25th-ranked and No. 5-seed Sooners managed to inch at least a little closer to the NCAA national tournament, due to begin May 28 in Atlanta.
After 36 holes, OU is still in seventh place in the 13-team field, needing to finish in the top five to advance to Atlanta. But with a second round of 7-under par 281, for a two-day total of 565, the Sooners are just a stroke out of fifth place, a spot currently occupied by both Georgia Tech and South Florida, each of which has fired off identical rounds of 280 and 284.
North Florida continued to set the pace Friday, finishing at 277 for a 36-hole total of 27-under par 549. Washington is two strokes back at 551, followed by host Florida State at 553 and Oregon, in fourth place, at 562.
To return to the national tournament, the Sooners will have to pass at least two of the teams in front of them beginning this morning, when the final round begins.
“It was another pretty good day, not great, but we are in the hunt, and that is all we can ask for,” OU coach Ryan Hybl said. “We have a four-team race for two spots, and our boys are ready for the challenge.”
Michael Schoolcraft and Abraham Ancer both had solid days after finishing off first-rounds in the 60s. Schoolcraft added a 70 to an earlier 68 and is 12th overall in the medalist standings. Ancer, with a 72 following Thursday’s 67, is 13th among individuals.
Friday’s big round was delivered by Charlie Saxon, who went from a 75 to a 67 his team badly needed. Also, Beau Titsworth improved from 74 to 72. The Sooners are still looking for some help from No. 5 man Will Kropp, who has had both of his scores, a 78 and a 75, dismissed from the team total.
“Charlie played really good golf, and Mike also got it under par, which was good to see,” Hybl said. “We have to have everyone in the game (Saturday), and the emotions have to be handled properly because this is an anxious time for everyone.”
MJ Maguire, of North Florida, maintained his lead in the medalist standings, matching a Thursday 65 with a Friday 68. Still, even at 11-under par 133, 11 other golfers are within five strokes with 18 holes remaining.