May 8, 2012
BY ALEX PODLOGAR
HERSHEY, Pa. - To advance to the NCAA Championship, Jacob Barge and the Fayetteville State Broncos needed to make a dramatic move up the leaderboard during Tuesday's second round of the NCAA Division-II Atlantic/East Super Regional.
Barge did just that - away from the golf course.
Barge and the rest of the Broncos finished their rounds before heavy rain descended on the East Course at Hershey Country Club, and after a steady 3-over 74 in his second round, Barge watched comfortably from the clubhouse - and elsewhere -- as the rest of the field first endured a 3-hour rain delay before heading back out to battle the grueling 6,984-yard track.
When Barge, who shared the low round of the day with two others, finished his day at 9 over for the tournament, he had fallen to 30th after entering the day tied for 14th. But by the end of play on Tuesday, Barge's clubhouse number had enabled him to ascend up the leaderboard and into a tie for sixth. If the tournament were to finish as it stands now, Barge would qualify for the NCAA Championship.
"I'm glad I finished before play was (suspended for rain)," the junior from Fayetteville said. "I limited my mistakes today and was able to focus through the conditions."
Play was stopped at around 7:20 p.m. for darkness with 12 teams still on the course. The second round will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, with the third and final round scheduled to begin with a shotgun start at 11 a.m.
Battling difficult conditions for a second straight day, Fayetteville State shot 325 as a team - one shot worse than in Monday's first round. The Broncos' two-day total of 349 placed them 15th as a team when play was stopped. The top five teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championship in Louisville, Ky., later this month.
Barge, though, is in a prime position to make a run at the national championship tournament. If Fayetteville State fails to finish as one of the regional's top five teams, Barge must place among the top two individuals from teams not in the top five to qualify for the NCAA Championship, which will be played from May 15-19 at the Cardinal Club Golf Course.
As temperatures continued to hover in the low 60s with an intermittent rain, Barge had just one hiccup on the front nine - a double bogey on the par-5 sixth hole. He recorded eight pars to make the turn in 2-over 38 before a bogey at no. 12 dropped him to 3 over. Barge, who competed in the National Junior College Golf Championship a year ago, then birdied the par-3 13th, but another bogey at 17 pushed his two-day total to 9-over 151.
Little did he know then that he was right where ne needed to be.
Barge is two shots back of Post University's Thomas Rees, who stood at 7 over through 12 holes when play was halted, and at the moment ranks as the first qualifier. Two golfers who could qualify as individuals, West Liberty's Ryan Thompson and Davis & Elkins' Phil Rutherford, both completed their second rounds and are a stroke behind Barge at 10 over.
The course, playing even longer because of a steady rain, continued to plague the rest of the Broncos. Brandon Jobe (Fr., Fayetteville, N.C.), the CIAA Player of the Year, shot an 84 for a two-day total of 164, placing him in a tie for 75th. Jedidiah Frazier (So., Havelock, N.C.) shot an 87 for a 168 total to fall to a tie for 85th. Lincoln Jackson (Sr., Southern Pines, N.C.), was two shots better on Tuesday after an 84 for a 170 total while Mike Wallace (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.) added an 83 - a whopping 14 strokes better than his first round on Monday.
After that, with the rain getting heavier, Barge and the Broncos took off for lunch and relaxation. But Barge kept a close eye on the scores online, and watched as his name continued to move up the leaderboard.
"I'm excited," Barge said. "There's one day left and I'm playing well. Anything could happen."
Wilmington Deleware's Paul Tighe, who shared the first-round lead with two others, continued to set the pace. Tighe was 2 over through 12 holes when play was stopped, and will enter the final round leading by four shots Wednesday. Wilmington, which led the team competition by six strokes entering the second round, leads Indiana University of Pennsylvania by just one shot. Neither team completed play on Tuesday.
Also for the CIAA, Virginia State's Stephen Genchi matched Barge's low round of 74 for a 157 total and a tie for 38th. Chowan's Cliff Forbes, who won the CIAA Championship in April, shot a second 81 for a 162 total that lands him in a tie for 59th.
Earlier on Tuesday, Fayetteville State coach Raymond McDougal, who has led the Broncos to 16 CIAA Championships, including 11 of the last 15, was named as the league's Coach of the Year for the 13th time.
Fayetteville State, which has won 11 of the last 15 CIAA Championships, last reached the regional tournament in 2009 when it became the first HBCU in 35 years to qualify for the NCAA Championship.