Chants climb back to middle of the pack at NCAA tourney

Coastal Carolina combined to shot 5-under on the second of three stroke-play rounds at the NCAA Championship, moving the Chanticleers into sole possession of 18th on the team leaderboard. The top eight teams after 54 holes of play on Thursday will advance to the match-play final.

Host Georgia Tech leads the 30-team field with a 36-hole tally of 12-under par 548, followed by California, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Arizona State and Texas A&M.

The Chants took advantage of their later tee time and minimal wind conditions, shaving 18 strokes off their round one score en route to posting a 5-under tally of 275. Coastal, which teed off on the back nine, vastly improved their scores on the 9th-18th holes, counting 16 fewer strokes than the day before.

Coastal was led on the day by junior Roberto Ballesteros. Ballesteros finished 5-over on his first round, but rebounded to shoot 4-under 66 on Wednesday. He opened the round with four straight pars before sinking back-to-back birdie putts on 14 and 15. He remained at 2-under as he made the turn, but quickly moved to 3-under with a birdie on one. He then bookended a bogey on three with pars on two and four. A birdie on the par-4, 320-yard fifth hole pushed him to 3-under. His final birdie of the day came on the 379-yard seventh. Ballesteros is currently tied for 42nd (75-66=141, +1).

Senior Sebastian Soderberg also turned in a below-par round, posting a final score of 67 (-3). Soderberg played par golf through his first 10 holes before picking up his first birdie on the par-4, 402-yard second hole. He found his second birdie on the fifth hole and his final on the seventh. Soderberg closed out his round with two pars and is tied for 42nd on the individual leaderboard with a 36-hole score of 141 (74-67).

Peter Valasek, Andrew Dorn and Ben Wheeler each concluded their days with matching 1-over 71s.

Valasek started the day par-bogey-birdie followed by three straight pars. However, the sophomore stumbled to a triple bogey on the par-4 16th. He quickly recovered to birdie his next two holes and make the turn at 1-over. Three pars ensued before Valasek birdied the par-5, 600-yard fourth hole, moving him back to even for the day. He would bogey his final hole of the day after finding trouble off the tee, leaving him with his 71. Valasek is tied for 113th (75-71=146).

Dorn’s round started on the rocks as he found himself 3-over after just two holes. However, the sophomore moved to 1-over with birdies on 12 and 16, but quickly gave those strokes back with bogeys on 17 and 18. He continued to battle over his back nine, carding three pars and back-to-back birdies to move back to 1-over with four holes to play. Pars on six and eight sandwiched a birdie on the par-4 seventh. Dorn would bogey his final hole after his approach shot landed hard on the green and rolled off the backside. He is tied for 97th overall (74-71=145).

Wheeler was 1-under with three birdies and two bogeys as he made the turn. He then played his next seven holes at even-par, making several impressive putts along the way. Wheeler’s sub-par round was undone on his final two holes as he finished bogey-bogey. The sophomore is also tied for 42nd with a two-day total of 141 (70-71).

The Chants tee off on the final round of stroke play starting at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday. Their pairing includes student-athletes from LSU and New Mexico.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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