Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
GREENSBORO, N.C. - A big round from the Northwest Conference Champion Pacific Lutheran University men's golf team has extended its stay at the 2018 NCAA Division III Championships, surviving the cut from 42 to 18 teams on Wednesday after shooting a 294 as a squad.
The Lutes shaved off nine strokes from round one, moving up one spot to 13th with a 597 after the dust settled on day two of the NCAA Championships at Grandover Resort. PLU opened the championships by shooting a 303 on Tuesday before coming back with a 294 today, inching up from 14th to 13th, and more importantly, kept a comfortable 10 strokes above the cut, as 24 teams were sent packing after the round.
Austin Darnell again paced the Lutes, as the NWC Freshman of the Year shot a four-under 68 and is now tied for eighth overall with a two-under 142 (74-68), sitting three-strokes back of leader Austin Wells of Otterbein University (71-68). The first-year Lute was one-under after starting on the back nine before ripping off three birdies in a four-hole stretch in the front nine to finish the day tying his best ever collegiate round.
"I ended up tying my collegiate low round today," said Darnell. "The putts were falling and I hit the ball just as good as yesterday. I'm only a couple off the lead and have a runat the individual title. It's awesome to make the cut as a team and we're going to enjoy the next couple of days and move up the leaderboard."
Jared Beals started the day off red hot with three birdies in his opening four holes and closed the day with a one-under 71. The first year currently sits 32nd overall with a two-day tally of 147.
"I think today was a battle for all of us, we started the day pretty close to the cut line so we came in determined to play well," said Beals. "I was lucky to make a lot of birdies today and bounce back from a bad stretch of holes. I'm excited to play the next couple of days and see how far we can jump up the leaderboard."
Mitchell Baldridge carded a 78 on the day while Jordan Brajcich shot a 77. Both sit tied with an identical 154 for the tournament while Luke Hall rounded out the PLU contingent with a 177 (86-91) through the opening two rounds.
Guilford College sits atop the leaderboard with a 578 (283-295) while Washington & Lee University (292-289) and Methodist University (294-287) sit tied for second with a 581. The Lutes currently sit just four strokes off 10th place heading into the final two rounds of the championships.
By making the cut the Lutes are guaranteed to at least tie the best performance in program history after the squad finish 18th at last season's NCAA Championships. PLU returns to action tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. (Eastern) for round three of four.