PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Alabama's second-ranked men's golf team retained its lead at the 2012 NCAA Championships with a 3-over-par score of 287 on Wednesday for a 36-hole total of 4-over 572 after two rounds at the 7,292-yard, par-71 Riviera Country Club.
The Crimson Tide has a four-shot lead over UCLA, who also carded a 287 (+3) in round two and is 8-over par. Florida State is third at 12-over 580 with Oklahoma and North Florida tied for fourth at 581. Washington (+14, 582) is sixth and Liberty (+15, 583) seventh with five teams tied for eighth at 16-over 584, including California, Kent State, Florida, Southern California and Illinois.
The field will be cut to eight teams after the completion of the third round on Thursday. The national champion will then be determined on Sunday after three rounds of match play.
"I feel really good about the round," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "I didn't realize the golf course was playing that hard until I looked at a scoreboard on 14. I was really proud of the guys. I feel like they grinded out a nice round today, when it was easy not too."
Sophomore Cory Whitsett led the Crimson Tide individually on Wednesday with a 3-under-par 68. It was tied for the low round of the day and left the Houston, Texas, native tied for fifth at 1-under 141.
"A day like today, things can definitely get away from you," Seawell said. "That is where Cory (Whitsett) stepping up with a 3-under, those are the things that change rounds. Our guys in the back were grinding, but they were three or four over par most of the day. To have a guy shoot 68 today, that was a huge help."
Whitsett made five birdies and two bogeys on his day and keyed his round with a birdie on the 166-yard, par-3 16th hole. He then followed with a birdie on the par-5 17th with a difficult up-and-down from the green-side bunker.
"The birdie I made on 16 was important for me," Whitsett said following the round. "I hit a good tee shot on 15, but it just barely caught the right bunker, and I made bogey. The round could have gone one of two ways at that point. It was nice to stick a shot in there close (on 16), about eight feet, and make it."
Whitsett was joined in red numbers by freshman Justin Thomas, who carded his second straight 1-under-par 70. Thomas is fourth after two rounds at 2-under 140, three shots off the lead of Illinois' Thomas Pieters (-5, 137).
Thomas got off to a quick start on the front nine with birdies on the second, third, eighth and ninth holes to make the turn at 4-under 31. He sandwiched a birdie in between two bogeys on the par-5 11th hole before making double bogey on the 14th and bogey on the 15th. Thomas returned to red numbers with a birdie on the 17th hole.
Senior Hunter Hamrick fired his second straight 2-over 73 that he capped with a birdie on the par-5, 590-yard 17th hole. He is 4-over 146 after 36 holes and tied for 37th.
Scott Strohmeyer shot 5-over 76 to count as the Tide's fourth score while Bobby Wyatt was the drop score at 6-over 77. Strohmeyer is tied for 53rd at 5-over 147 with Wyatt tied for 60th at 6-over 148.
Alabama will play with UCLA and Florida State on Thursday in the final round of stroke play. The top eight teams will advance to match play that begins on Friday.
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