OCALA, Fla. – Sophomore Austin Cook and freshman Sebastian Cappelen each shot two-under par rounds to lead the University of Arkansas men’s golf team on the second day of the NCAA Southeast Regional in Ocala, Fla.
Arkansas’ team score of 287 on the day dropped it into a tie for fourth with Baylor and one stroke behind Florida and North Carolina State for second. Defending national champion Augusta State was masterful on the course shooting 13-under par as a team to take a commanding lead in the team race.
"We got off to a good start today," Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "We were in the lead at the turn but unfortunately, we had one bad hole and that cost us the round. The good news is that we are right in there and still have a chance to win tomorrow."
The Razorbacks opened strong on Friday, even taking the team lead when they reached the turn, but a couple of bad breaks on the back side of the course ruined what could have been a tremendous score. Arkansas needs to finish among the top five teams on Saturday if it wishes to advance to its 18th NCAA Championship.
Cook looked solid throughout the day as he shot even par for the first 10 holes of the course. Never getting into much trouble and reaching greens in regulation, he made his move on the par three 11th when he stuck his tee shot closest to the pin in his group and tapped in for birdie. On the next hole, a 491-yard, par 5 with a 90-degree turn to the left, Cook hit his drive pure leaving him a seven iron into the green. With a front pin placement and water in front of the green, Cook dropped his shot within six feet and sank his eagle putt to go three-under par. A bogey on 13 moved him back to two-under and five consecutive holes of par completed his round.
Cappelen’s round was not nearly as ordinary as Cook’s but four birdies and a pair of bogeys had him at two-under par for the day. Cappelen’s best stretch came on holes four through six where he posted back-to-back-to-back birdies, scores that put Arkansas into the team lead. Cappelen would give one stroke back before the turn and played the back side at even par. The All-SEC player’s best shot of the round could have been his tee shot on the par three sixth, a replica of Augusta National’s No. 16. The shot sailed straight at the pin and landed inside of 10 feet on a tough pin placement giving him his birdie opportunity.
Freshman Will Pearson rebounded from what could have been a disastrous start to play nearly error free golf and shoot one-over par. His drive on No. 2 hooked into the woods on the left side of the fairway, nearly causing him to declare an unplayable ball. After several minutes of searching, Pearson found the ball and knocked it out of the woods, but the errant shot cost him a double bogey on the hole. The Memphis, Tenn., native responded quickly from the setback by recording birdies on No. 4 and No. 5 to move back to even par and finished the round with 12 straight holes of par before bogey on the final hole.
A good round by junior Ethan Tracy turned ugly on a single swing, but the veteran finished strong keeping Arkansas in the hunt. Even par through 10 holes with a birdie and bogey, Tracy moved to one-under par on 10 with a great tee shot on the par three hole. Two holes later on the par four 13th, a replica hole of St. Andrews No. 17, the Road Hole, Tracy’s tee shot went right and struck the cart path before bouncing up and over the signature wall on the right side of the fairway. Tracy took a triple bogey as he tried to play up and over the four-foot high wall moving him to two-over par for the round. A bogey on 16 had him three over, but a 200-plus yard three wood from the fairway on 18 stopped 30 feet from the hole on the edge of the green allowing him to finish with a birdie.
A promising start by Jamie Marshall ended at five-over par for the round. The senior birdied the first two holes of the round; including No. 2 when he hit a three iron from the rough that barely carried the greenside bunker. The shot, which could have gone well past the green, struck the rough on the front edge which stopped much of its forward momentum and rolled to a stop eight feet from the pin. Unfortunately for Marshall, he would double bogey the fourth hole and play the back side of the course at five-over par.
Arkansas completes its quest for a berth at the NCAA Championships on Saturday morning at the Golden Ocala Golf Club at 7:50 a.m. from the first tee. Marshall will be the first Razorback on the tee and will be followed by Pearson, Tracy, Cook and Cappelen. The Razorbacks will be playing with Baylor for the second day in a row and either Kennesaw State or Georgia Southern who are tied for sixth.