FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After a less-than-stellar round on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Championships, the Commodores responded in the second round with a 19-shot improvement and an even-par 288 at the par-72, 7,550-yard Blessings Golf Club. Vanderbilt moved up six spots on the team leader board and were led by sophomore Harrison Ott, who carded a bogey-free 71 in the second round.
Ott, from Brookfield, Wisconsin, carded 17 pars and one birdie, which came at the par-four, 496-yard 14th, and is the only player to post a bogey-free round in the men’s field, which at the end of the day Saturday, amounted to 312 rounds of golf over the first two days. For the women’s tournament, there was only one bogey-free round by eventual individual champ Maria Fassi of Arkansas in her third round. Combined between the men’s and women’s tournaments, there have been only two bogey-free rounds of golf in 708 total rounds between the two events.
“He was in command all day and was never really in trouble,” said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh of Ott’s performance. “He got a good break on one when he made the turn, but his emotional level was steady all day. He made some big, big par putts so it was good to see.”
Other Commodore counters on Saturday included a pair of even-par 72’s from senior Patrick Martin and John Augenstein, and a 1-over 73 from senior Will Gordon. Gordon was 2-under par in his final nine holes on Saturday.
“I’m really pleased and proud how we finished,” said Limbaugh. “The mental toughness we showed to finish the round of golf off today after not finishing it off yesterday was the challenge coming out this morning. I told them ‘Guys, we are going to choose to be confident, to have great body language and self-talk, and then let the chips fall where they may. We’re going to do what we do.'”
Oklahoma State is the team leader by 12 shots heading into Sunday’s play and has a total of 566 (290-276). Individually, the Cowboys’ Austin Eckroat leads the tournament with a 6-under-par 138 (69-69).
“I think as a team, when we looked at yesterday’s round, we knew we kind of gave in,” said Limbaugh. “We didn’t give up, we just gave in a little bit to what we call the ‘Woah is Me’. Today we were going to hold ourselves to a higher standard. There wasn’t as much wind today, we got the good greens in the morning, and all the teams that we played with all had some momentum going out there. It was a little more scorable.
“I’m so proud of Gordo and his bounce back after yesterday’s round. He was a couple-under on the front nine and then had a great up-and-down on the last hole. Those are really big. Every shot this time of year is big.”
The Commodores will tee off Sunday morning at 8:07 a.m. off of the 10th tee and will be paired with Arizona State and Clemson. The field will be cut to 15 after play concludes.
“I think for us, we just have to continue to do us,” said Limbaugh. “We can’t assume that we’re going to play well because we’re Vanderbilt Golf. You have to do the things that it takes to play well. For us, that means choosing confidence, passion, playing with the right competitive character, and having fun. The second this out here becomes like a job, it becomes hard and not as fun. This isn’t a job, this is an honor, and I want us to treat it that way.”
11. Vanderbilt – 307-288=595
T33. John Augenstein – 75-72=147
T37. Harrison Ott – 77-71=148
T48. Patrick Martin – 77-72=149
T102. Will Gordon – 82-73=155
T118. Reid Davenport – 78-79=157