May 30, 2008
The fourth-ranked UCLA men's golf team owned a three-stroke lead entering the final round of the 111th NCAA Championship, hosted by Purdue at its Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Ind.
In windy, early morning conditions, the Bruins posted a team score of 298 (+10) -- their worst score of the tournament -- over the beastly 7,450-yard layout and it gave them a three-round total of 888 (+24). That score gave them a three-stroke cushion over USC and Clemson, which were tied for second place at 891 (+27). The Trojans were 12-over par on Friday and the Tigers carded a 14-over par round. Defending champion Stanford was five shots back at 893 (+29), followed by fifth-place Oklahoma State at 895 (+31).
Fifteen teams remained on the course when electrical storms forced the suspension of play at 5:55 p.m. ET. None of the teams figured to be a factor in UCLA's lead with the closest pursuer 15 shots behind with less than six holes to play. The field will be cut to the top 15 teams following the third round.
Senior All-American Kevin Chappell claimed a four-shot lead entering Saturday's round, firing a 68 (-4) on Friday for a 54-hole total of 210 (-6). He leads Clemson's Kyle Stanley and Washington's Nick Taylor who were both at 214 (-2). Chappell made six birdies, playing the par 3s in three-under par. He bogeyed the two toughest holes on the course -- the 481-yard par 4 ninth and the 484-yard par 4 18th. By his own admission, Chappell's bogey at the last hole was "one of the best bogeys I've ever made."
He pulled his tee shot and hit a provisional ball because he thought the first might be out of bounds. He found it about two feet inside the OB line, but had to stand on a tree root to hit his second shot, which landed in high rough 25 yards short of the green. On Coach Derek Freeman's advice he went for the green and rolled his third shot just to the back fringe, where he two-putted for a five.
He was the only player in the morning wave to break 70.
"I said to myself, `Wow. That was a really good round.'" Remarked Chappell. "I'd have to say it was one of the top five rounds I've ever played."
"Considering the conditions, the difficulty of the course and the situation, Kevin's round was pretty amazing," said Freeman.
Senior Craig Leslie rebounded from a round of 80 (+8) on Thursday to post a solid 74 (+2). Leslie made a pair of clutch birdies at the 15th and 16th holes and was the only UCLA player to par the 18th. He was tied for 71st at 230 (+14).
Junior Erik Flores was even par through 14 holes before he was bitten by the bogeyman. He carded four straight bogeys and ended the day with a 76 (+4). He was tied for 43rd at 227 (+11).
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