ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – The third-ranked Alabama men's golf team turned in another strong performance on Friday during the second round of the NCAA Central Regional at the par-71, 7,025-yard Wolf Run Golf Club.
The Crimson Tide's even-par round of 284 moved them into a first-place tie with second-seeded Illinois at 6-under-par 562. UA got even par or better rounds from Bobby Wyatt (-1), Bud Cauley (E) and Cory Whitsett (E) while Hunter Hamrick shot 1-over 73.
"The course played a lot tougher today," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said following Friday's round. "I was worried about that fourth score when Cory (Whitsett) and Trey (Mullinax) started slow and were 4-over midway through the round. Cory really turned things around and shot 4-under on the back to get to even par, which was huge for us."
Illinois shot 1-over 285 in round two while Michigan is four shots back in third place at 2-under-par 566 after a 288 on Friday. Iowa and Stanford round out the top five with the Hawkeyes at 6-over 574 and Cardinal at 576.
The top-five teams after 54 holes of play advance to the 2011 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., on May 31-June 5. Charlotte is seven shots back of Stanford in sixth place with Tennessee in seventh place one shot back of Charlotte.
"There are a lot of good teams in this regional and we need to accept the challenge to win and not just qualify," Seawell said. "I want to see our team respond in the third round. A top-5 finish is nice, but I want this team to be as good as they can."
Maybe the Tide's most important round came from Whitsett, who was 4-over-par after six holes on Friday but finished at even-par 71. The freshman from Houston, Texas, had four birdies (10, 15, 16 and 17) and no bogeys on the back nine to enter Saturday's final round in a tie for 17th place at 2-over 144.
Cauley continued his excellent play with an even par round but a double bogey on the 18th hole knocked him out of the individual lead as Illinois' Scott Langley birdied his final three holes. Cauley is 3-under-par 139 after 36 holes, two-shots back of Langley, in a four-way tie for second place.
Hamrick is tied for sixth individually after a 1-over 72 on Friday. He is three shots off the lead of Langley at 2-under 140 for the tournament.
Freshman Bobby Wyatt carded UA's only under-par score on Friday with a 70. He is tied for 32nd overall at 5-over-par 147. Trey Mullinax finished his second round with a birdie on No. 17 for a 3-over 74. He is tied for 12th at 1-over 143 after two rounds of play.
Alabama will tee off at 8 a.m. Saturday with Illinois and Iowa in search of the programs fifth NCAA Championship berth in the last seven years.