Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. - The Pacific Lutheran University men's golf team extended its stay at the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships on Wednesday, shaving nine strokes off its opening round by carding a 305 on the Las Colinas Golf Course. The performance catapulted the Lutes up the leaderboard, surviving the cutdown from 42 teams to just 18 after Wednesday's second round.
The Lutes finished the second round with a team score of 619 (314-305), climbing up eight spots in the standings to 17th after finishing round one tied for 25th. The effort guarantees PLU its best finish in program history moving into the final two rounds of the tournament, eclipsing the squad's 20th place showing in 2001.
"It was a good effort all around," Head Coach Kris Swanson said. "The guys had it going today. We started off much better today and had momentum. It's tough to keep that going with so much on the line. I'm really happy with all of them. We will probably finish the tournament as one of the birdie leaders and par three scoring leaders which says a lot about how good these guys played. Truly, for 30 holes they played like one of the best teams in the country."
Ryan Sturdivan emerged as the top performer from the Lutes in round two, shooting a two-over par 74. He was outstanding to open his round, shooting birdies on the 12th and 15th holes. The sophomore was one under after the back nine and currently sits tied 49th overall with a 153 (79-74).
Thomas Huddleston wasn't far behind Sturdivan, going three over par using 75 strokes while carding a 155 over the opening two rounds. Huddleston shot even golf on all but two holes throughout his round. Mitchell Baldridge shot a 77 and sits tied with Sturdivan in 49th with a 153 for the tournament. His success came early in the round with birdies in two of his first three holes.
Kyle Drugge was solid on the front nine. He birdied the fourth and sixth holes, finishing three over on the front. When his round was over, he shot a 79 for the second straight day, owning a 158 after two rounds. Alex Nelson rounded out the squad, shooting an 88 (169 overall).
Huntingdon College remains atop the team standings, owning a four stroke lead on the rest of the field with a 584 (293-291) while the Hawks' Addison Lambeth remains atop the individual leaderboard with a 141 (69-72).
The Lutes will open the third round tomorrow at 8 a.m. Eastern Time.