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NCAA Men’s Golf Championships : Georgia Tech Senior Leads; USC Slips to Second

Times Staff Writer

Bill McDonald is showing a mean streak during the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. men’s golf championships at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village.

McDonald, a senior at Georgia Tech, was mad at himself after he shot an opening-round, 6-over-par 77 and has been taking it out on the 6,817-yard layout ever since.

McDonald followed his second-round 68 with a 2-under-par 69 Friday that made him the individual leader of the 4-day, 72-hole tournament, which concludes today.

“I’ve been aggressive off the tee, using a 3-wood where lots of people are using 1-irons,” said McDonald, who leads by two strokes with a 214. “I’m trying to force the issue a little bit. You have to be mean on this course.”

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Otherwise, as USC and UCLA learned Friday, the course is going to be very mean to you.

USC, which has never won a team championship in golf, began the round with a one-shot lead, but the Trojans fell apart on the 438-yard, par-4 18th hole and carded a third-round 297 that dropped them into second place, three shots behind Florida (876).

Oklahoma (882) is in third place, followed by defending national champion Oklahoma State (884), Georgia Tech (886) and UCLA (889).

“Southern Cal was getting ready to run away with the tournament,” Florida Coach Buddy Alexander said. “Unfortunately, they ran into the 18th hole.”

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James Kim, a USC sophomore who was two-under after 17, took eight shots to complete the final hole and finished at 73. Freshman Bryan Pemberton also concluded his round with a quadruple bogey on 18 and finished at 78.

The 18th hole caused problems for UCLA, as well. The Bruins, seeking their first national championship, moved from 10th place to 6th. But UCLA could have improved even more if the Bruins, who began play on the back nine, had not lost a total of 12 strokes to par on holes 16, 17, 18, 1 and 2.

“Dead man’s alley is what we call it,” UCLA Coach Eddie Merrins said. “We had an excellent round going, but we frittered it away.”

Oklahoma State kept its title hopes alive with a 290, the low round of the day. E.J. Pfister paced the Cowboys with his second 70 that put him in a four-way tie for second at 216 with Steve Stricker of Illinois, Chris DeMarco of Florida and O.D. Vincent of Washington.

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USC’s Will Tipton has also carded consecutive 70s and is three shots behind McDonald at 217. Brandt Jobe of UCLA is four shots off the lead at 218.

Pemberton is tied with Bob Estes of Texas at 219.

Six teams failed to make the cut at 899. Twenty-three individuals with scores above 223 also were eliminated.

Final-round play begins today at 8 a.m., and USC Coach Randy Lein said he is happy with his team’s position.

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“A month ago we said we wanted to be in a position to win the tournament,” Lein said. “And here we are.”


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