MILTON, Ga. -- Tony Lazzara posted Ball State’s best score Wednesday at the NCAA Championships for the second day in a row with a round of 69, though the Cardinals slipped a couple spots in the team race after a tough closing nine.
Lazzara is 1-under par for the tournament through 36 holes. He is Ball State’s top individual in a tie for 30th in the 156-player field heading into Thursday’s final round of stroke play.
The Cardinals dropped to 28th as a team Wednesday with a round of 289, which was one shot better than their opening round. They are 19-over heading into the third round and will play Thursday with 29th-place St. Mary’s and 30th-place South Carolina with tee times starting at 7 a.m.
“We’re going to be fine,” Ball State coach Mike Fleck said. “Our guys are probably a little disappointed, but they’re pretty resilient. We’re going to bounce back tomorrow. We actually have a lot to play for to try to move up and put some pretty good teams behind us.”
At the conclusion of Thursday’s round at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course , the field will be cut to eight teams for the match-play portion of the championships.
Georgia Tech moved into the lead Wednesday at 12-under par, taking a one-shot lead on top-seed California. Defending champion Texas and last year’s runner-up Alabama are both within four shots of the lead. Texas A&M is currently sitting in the eighth spot at even-par.
Arizona State’s Jon Rahm held onto the individual lead Wednesday despite a 2-over par round of 72. He is 7-under for the tournament with a one-shot lead on Greg Eason of UCF and Nicolas Echavarria of Arkansas. A group of five players is two shots back.
Lazzara got his round to as low as 3-under and four shots off the lead Wednesday after three straight birdies from the third hole through the fifth on what was Ball State’s second nine of the day. He closed with two bogeys but still managed his second consecutive round of par or better.
As a whole, the Cardinals did not play holes one through nine as well as they did on day one, posting a score of 8-over on that side. The reverse was true on the back nine, where Ball State opened the day, playing that side at 1-over, 10 shots better than the opening round.
Joe Gasser turned in Ball State’s second-best score of the day with a 72, while Alex Stinson and McCormick Clouser posted rounds of 74. Stinson is 6-over for the tournament, while Gasser is 8-over and Clouser 11-over.
Stinson saved a miraculous par on the final hole, getting up and down from 150 yards and a hole away to secure the round of 289 for the team, setting the program’s 18-hole NCAA finals record for the second straight day.
Tyler Merkel was Ball State’s non-counting score on the day. He played his front nine in even-par but found some trouble on his second nine on the way to a 77. Merkel is 9-over for the championships.
Ball State will get its third round started early Thursday, going off in the first groups at 7 a.m. Live scoring is available at ncaa.com.