By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
On a day when Baylor's golfers combined for 15 bogeys, one double-bogey and a triple-bogey, the Bears still managed to shoot even-par 288 in Tuesday's second round and created even more separation from the cut line.
Texas A&M and Clemson all but turned it into a two-team race for the NCAA Bryan Regional title, posting two of the three subpar rounds on the day and finishing 36 holes at 18-under and 17-under, respectively. Baylor is next at 6-under 570, with UCLA (even-par 576) and Ole Miss (3-over 579) also in position for the five qualifying spots for the NCAA Championship.
"The team, obviously, struggled more today than we did the first round," Baylor coach Mike McGraw said of Monday's 6-under-par 282. "As I told them yesterday, that's why you play a great first round is you put yourself in position. We didn't play very well today, but we did finish well. We had a few birdies at the end that helped us salvage an even-par round."
Sophomore Cooper Dossey led the way for the second straight day, overcoming a shaky start to birdie four of the last 11 holes and shoot 2-under-par 70. At 6-under 138, he remained in contention for medalist honors, just two strokes out of the lead shared by A&M's Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith (8-under 136).
"I think Cooper is what you call a fighter, he's a grinder," McGraw said of Dossey, who sank a 35-foot birdie putt on 18. "He absolutely has grit. Doesn't always have his game, it's not always perfect, but he's always fighting. I think he was 2- or 3-over-par early, and then came back and finished at 2-under. He birdied 16 and 18, so that was pretty nice for him to finish the way he did on a positive note. Gave us a little energy."
With birdies on two of the last three holes, junior Braden Bailey shot even-par 72 and moved up to a tie for 19th at 1-over 145. On the 444-yard par-4 18th, Bailey "hit a good drive over the bunker, got pretty far down there," hit a pitching wedge from 125 yards out and rolled in a 15-footer for birdie.
"The meat of the golf course was 16, 17 and 18, and (Bailey) played it 2-under," McGraw said. "That says a lot about where he is relative to confidence. He can summon that up when he really, really needs it, and he did. And his teammates needed him. That's two extra shots that we don't have to worry about tomorrow."
Bailey said he's hoping to "bring that momentum in with me" into Wednesday's final round in the 54-hole tournament at the Traditions Golf Club.
"Obviously, we're not too happy with the way we played today," he said. "All of us kind of struggled a little bit. But, we're still in good shape. I think the conditions will be pretty similar, so a good round tomorrow will definitely move us up the leader board."
Senior Matthew Perrine and freshman Ryan Grider shot matching rounds of 1-over 73 for Baylor's last scoring rounds. Perrine is tied for 14th with junior Garrett May at even-par 144, with Grider moving up nine spots to a tie for 40th despite making a triple-bogey 7 on the last hole.
"I cautioned the guys to not be down," McGraw said. "They're together, they're having fun, they're in contention to go to the national championship. That's something to build energy on. I've encouraged them to think that way this evening so that you can get ready for tomorrow."
The Bears, trying to make three straight NCAA Championships for the first time in program history, are 17 shots ahead of sixth-place South Carolina going into Wednesday's final round. Paired with A&M and Clemson for the third straight day, Baylor will tee off from the No. 1 hole between 7:30 and 8:14 a.m. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com.
BRYAN, Texas -- Baylor men's golf is in third place after shooting even-par 288 in Tuesday's second round of the NCAA Bryan Regional at Traditions Club. The Bears sit at 6-under 570, 12 shots back of the lead and 17 strokes in front of the current five-team cut to advance to the NCAA Championship.
Baylor (-6) trails only No. 2 Texas A&M (-18) and No. 14 Clemson (-17). No. 26 UCLA (E) and No. 34 Ole Miss (+3) are also in also currently positioned to earn NCAA Championship berths awarded to the top five teams after 54 holes. BU has a 17-stroke lead on the current first team outside the cut, No. 38 South Carolina (+11), and the Bears also lead No. 23 Kentucky (+13), Northern Colorado (+17), UNC Wilmington (+20), Mississippi State (+23), Bradley (+24), No. 47 San Francisco (+28) and No. 50 Georgia (+29).
Baylor's best score of the day was again posted by sophomore Cooper Dossey, who played his final 11 holes at 4-under to card a 2-under 70. He made a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to bring the Bears back to even-par on the day after they had been as much as 4-over. Dossey is tied for sixth place individually at 6-under 138, two shots back of the individual lead.
Junior Braden Bailey was 2-over through 15 holes, but he birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to card an even-par 72, which moved him into a tie for 19th place at 1-over 145. Senior Matthew Perrine and freshman Ryan Grider posted the Bears' final counting scores with rounds of 1-over 73. Perrine was 3-over through three holes, but he played the rest of the round at 2-under. Grider made four birdies on his first eight holes and took the turn at 3-under, but a triple bogey on No. 18 brought him back above par.
Garrett May also birdied the 18th hole to move to 2-over 74 on the day, and he joined Perrine in a tie for 14th place with 36-hole totals of even-par 144. Grider is tied for 40th place at 5-over 149.
Baylor has a chance to advance to the NCAA Championship for a school-record third consecutive season. BU needs to finish among the top five teams, and the Bears currently have a 17-stroke lead on sixth place.
Baylor's even-par 288 on Tuesday tied for 19th-best NCAA Tournament score in program history.
Cooper Dossey has now shot par or better in eight of nine career NCAA Tournament rounds, including all five rounds at NCAA Regionals.
Baylor ranks second in the 13-team field in par-5 scoring at 12-under 4.70.
BU is third in par-4 scoring at 8-over 4.08 and fourth in par-3 scoring at 4-over 3.10.
Baylor's 37 birdies are third-most in the field, and the Bears are sixth with 111 pars.
Matthew Perrine is tied for second in the 75-player field in par-5 scoring at 5-under 4.38.
Dossey is tied for fourth in par-4 scoring at 2-under 3.90, tied for fifth in par-3 scoring at 1-under 2.88, tied for seventh in par-5 scoring at 3-under 4.63 and tied for third with 26 pars.
Garrett May is tied for sixth in par-4 scoring at 1-under 3.95 and tied for 15th in par-3 scoring at even-par 3.00.
Ryan Grider is tied for seventh in par-5 scoring at 3-under 4.63, while Braden Bailey is tied for 16th at 2-under 4.75.
May, Dossey and Grider are tied for 11th with eight birdies apiece, while Perrine is tied for 16th with seven birdies and Bailey is tied for 29th with six birdies.
STAT OF THE DAY
3 -- All five Baylor golfers made at least three birdies in Tuesday's second round. Bailey, Dossey and Grider had four birdies apiece, while May and Perrine both had three birdies.
"The team obviously struggled more today than we did in the first round, but as I told them yesterday, that's why you play a great first round to put yourself into position," head coach Mike McGraw said. "We didn't play very well today, but we did finish well. We had a few birdies at the end that helped us salvage an even-par round."
Baylor is paired with Texas A&M and Clemson for a third consecutive round, and those groups will tee off from the first hole starting at 7:30 a.m. CT. Grider is up first for Baylor at 7:30 a.m., followed by Bailey at 7:41 a.m., Perrine at 7:52 a.m., May at 8:03 a.m. and Dossey at 8:14 a.m. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com. Follow @BaylorMGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates throughout the season.