STILLWATER, Okla. – Freshman Sebastian Cappelen shot a round of even par for the 16th-ranked University of Arkansas men’s golf team and the Razorbacks ended the day in 11th place at the 2011 NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.
The Razorbacks are just four strokes from the top eight in the tournament, a position they will have to find themselves if they wish to continue to match play for the national title. No. 4 Georgia Tech leads the championship with a team score of three-under par and is followed by No. 2 UCLA, No. 9 Illinois, No. 12 Georgia, No. 3 Alabama, No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Augusta State and No.8 Texas A&M and No. 27 Ohio State who are tied for that pivotal eighth position.
"After the start that we had, I couldn’t be more proud of the guys for hanging in there, "Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "We had two double bogeys and two bogeys on the first hole we played and had to grind to finish where we did. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more wind than we’ve had the first two days so that could inflate the scores. We only have to make up a few so are still very much in this."
Arkansas’ start was one that it hoped to avoid as the team teed off on10 to start the afternoon session. Cappelen was the lone Razorback to shoot par on the hole while teammates Ethan Tracy and Will Pearson posted bogeys and Austin Cook and Jamie Marshall each recorded double bogeys leaving Arkansas six-over par as a team after a single hole. The Razorbacks did bounce back with a pair of birdies on 11, but it was a grind all day for Arkansas to keep its score from soaring on one of the toughest courses it has played all year.
Cappelen’s round began with a par and he scored a birdie on each of his next two holes to go to two-under par. He would give one stroke back with a bogey on 16, but birdied the par five 18th to go back to two-under at the turn. His back nine turned ugly as he played the par three third hole. His tee shot hooked left and hit the cart path for a lost ball and the ensuing double bogey brought his score back to even par. He would bogey No. 5 as well, but a fantastic 100-yard shot on 18 bit on the green and rolled back some 30 feet and missed the hole by inches for an eagle. Cappelen would settle for a birdie to get to his final score.
Continuing his fantastic tournament, Cook shot two-over par on Wednesday to bring his two-day total to 144, even par and stands in a tie for 14th in the individual standings. Cook’s opening hole double bogey didn’t do the sophomore from Jonesboro, Ark., any favors, but he quickly birdied his second hole. Unfortunately for Cook, he would record three more bogeys on his first nine holea, ending the set with a birdie to move to three-over at the turn. Cook opened the back nine with a pair of par putts, then scored back-to-back birdies on three and four to get all the way back to one-over par. He carded a bogey on the next hole and finished his round with four straight pars, which included a pair of birdie putts that just missed. At even par for the tournament, Cook is five strokes behind the clubhouse leader, John Peterson of LSU who shot an astounding seven-under par on Wednesday.
Like Cook, Marshall’s double bogey to open the day could have been disastrous, but the senior kept his composure and finished with a 75, three-over par. Following his double, Marshall sank six straight putts for par and finished his front nine with a bogey and birdie on the tough 17th hole and 18. Marshall was solid as he started his final nine holes with five straight pars before he recorded a birdie to move to just one-over par with three holes to play. Marshall finished his round with a pair of bogeys to move back to three-over.
Tracy didn’t have a bad hole until his 15th hole of the day when he recorded a double bogey, but otherwise played a solid round that included three bogeys and 14 pars. Back-to-back bogeys to start his day didn’t get things off to a good beginning, but he settled in and hit par on the next four holes. A bogey on 16 was followed by seven straight pars leading up to his double bogey. Tracy had an opportunity to move back to four-over par on 18 when he blasted his ball out of a greenside bunker and left himself a 10-foot putt, but the ball stopped just short of the hole on his birdie try so he tapped in for par.
Pearson played another solid day of golf for the Razorbacks even though his score would not get tallied in the team total. The freshman scored 12 pars and six bogeys in his round, never getting himself in too much trouble, but unable to sink a long putt. In fact, Pearson had a few birdie tries that came oh so close, but he settled for tap in pars instead.
The Razorbacks are still waiting to hear the final pairings for stroke play, but it appears that Arkansas will tee off at noon on the 10th hole. The Hogs will need to make up at least four strokes if they wish to move on to the match play round of the tournament.