RALEIGH, N.C. – No. 8 Washington completed another strong day at the NCAA Raleigh Regional and although they fell behind a blistering pace set by No. 5 Georgia Tech, the Dawgs are comfortably second and in good position to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Washington is 12-under after finishing its opening round in the morning at 6-under and then backing that up with the regularly scheduled second round with another 6-under 278.
Despite the strong effort from the Dawgs, UW sits 16 shots back of the Yellow Jackets. No. 32 Kentucky is third at 8-under, followed by No. 20 Texas A&M at 3-under and No. 17 Florida State at 1-under. Wake Forest and Minnesota are currently the first teams out as they are tied for sixth at 5-over with only the top five will advance to the NCAA Championships next week in Hutchinson, Kansas.
“We played really solid today,” said head coach Matt Thurmond. “I have felt this way after almost every round this season. We played pretty well, but someone went out and played better than us. Georgia Tech is just on fire. We are playing with them so we have seen it in action.”
The Dawgs had to wait out additional delays on Friday morning, despite perfect weather in Raleigh. Rain measured five inches overnight causing heavy puddling on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course.
“Our guys handled the delay well,” said Thurmond. “It was really weird to have perfect weather and still be delayed, but the course just got destroyed by all that rain.”
The Dawgs were led by Jonathan Sanders who is tied for second at 7-under, just one shot off the lead. Sanders finished his first round with a 3-under 68, then had a bogey-free round of 4-under 67 in the afternoon. Sanders trails only Ollie Schnienerjans of Georgia Tech going into Saturday’s final round.
“Jonathan is hitting the ball really well, but the biggest thing is his putting,” said Thurmond. “He has a very complete game, but now is making a ton of putts. When you are making 15-footers for par it is really going to help your confidence grow.”
Husky senior Trevor Simsby is also in contention, tied for fifth at 5-under. Simsby made three birdies and just one bogey on his way to shooting a 2-under 69 in the afternoon.
Back in a tie for 18th are Cheng-Tsung Pan and Corey Pereira. Pan stumbled to the finish in his morning round, making two bogeys over the final four holes to finish with a 1-over 72. He responded in the afternoon with a 1-under 70 to get back to even par. Pereira had the same scores in the opposite order, completing a 1-under 70 in the morning, before a 1-over 72 in the afternoon.
Finally, Chris Babcock is tied for 35th at 2-over 144. Babcock has back-to-back rounds of 1-over 72 and has made four birdies for the tournament.
The Dawgs will be back in action on Saturday for the final round of the NCAA Raleigh Regional. Washington will attempt to chase down Georgia Tech, but more importantly look to clinch their third-straight trip to the NCAA Championships.
“We are going to go out there and be aggressive and see what we can do,” said Thurmond. “You never know what can happen. The goal for our team is to still try to win the tournament.”