BATON ROUGE, La. --- The UAB men's golf team improved by eight strokes in round two of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional with a team score of 300, but is still 11 strokes behind Coastal Carolina and LSU, who are tied for the fifth and final Nationals qualifying spot.
Hunter Hawkins led the Blazers in round two with a one-under par 71 at the University Club. Hawkins got off to a good start, making a birdie on the par-5 11th hole to get into red figures. He made a bogey on the par-4 16th that brought him back to even, but made a great chip, his third shot, to within a couple inches of the hole on the par-5 17th to get back to one-under. He went birdie-bogey on the fourth and fifth holes to remain at one-under for the round.
"It was a little bit of an up and down round. On the front nine, I struck it really well and didn't make any putts. On the back, I kind of hit is all over the place but chipped and putted really well and got it into the clubhouse at one-under," said Hawkins.
Hawkins in currently in a tie for 14th place at four-over (77-71/148) for the tournament.
"I'm proud of Hunter, he's worked really hard and he is our only senior. He made three really good putts coming in, he has always struck the ball well but has had some struggles putting, so it was good to see him makes some putts," said head coach Alan Kaufman.
Sam Love also put together a very solid round for the Blazers. After a rough back nine yesterday that led to an 82, Love was able to rebound with a two-over par 72 in the second round. He made the turn at two-over and after back-to-back bogey's on five and six put him to three-over for the day, he was able to birdie his last hole to get back to two-over.
Thomas Sutton also made a birdie on his final hole to finish at five-over for the day. Paul Dunne was two-over with four holes to play but made double bogey-bogey-bogey-par to finish with a 78 (+6). Wilson McDonald wasn't able to continue the momentum he had from yesterday's good round and finished with an 87.
"We had some good golfers and some bad golfers today and it's a tough course and if you're not on the top of your game, the golf course will win. Unfortunately other than Sam and Hunter, the other three guys didn't play to their normal ability," said Kaufman.
The Blazers were able to improve upon their first round score of 308, carding a team score of 300 in the second round, but will need to make a bigger jump in round three if they want to continue on at National.
"We improved but haven't improved enough. Tomorrow, in order for us to get to Nationals, we will need to shoot even as a team or better. I believe we are 11 shots out and I really believe that is what it's going to take," added Kaufman.
Florida, Alabama, and South Alabama have pulled away from the field a little with 36-hole totals of 578, 586 and 593, respectively. Houston is currently in the fourth spot at 596 with Coastal Carolina and LSU tied for fifth place at 597. Just ahead of UAB is Tennessee at 604 and Northwestern at 607.
Three Florida golfers occupy the top four spots in the individual rankings. TJ Vogel leads the medalist race at three-under par through two rounds.
UAB will tee off on No. 10 for the third straight day on Saturday morning. Wilson McDonald will be the first on the tee for the Blazers, teeing off at 7:30 a.m. CT. For the third round, UAB will be paired with Tennessee and Northwestern.