O’Neill and Power make big push ahead of NCAA Regionals finale

John Craven
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Connemara's Luke O'Neill - Image by Kansas State

Luke O’Neill and Mark Power played key roles for Kansas State and Wake Forest respectively as the two Universities look to claw their way into the all important top-5 at the NCAA Regionals with spots at Nationals up for grabs on Wednesday.

Connemara’s K-State convert O’Neill added a two-under 69 to his opening 68 to sit T6 on the individual board while leading the Wildcats hopeful charge into the top-5.

K-State moved two spots up the leaderboard into a tie for sixth place with a 36-hole score of four-under par, though deficit to earn a top-five placing and move on to the NCAA Championship grew to seven shots as host-school Michigan State is currently in fifth place at 11-under.

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“Our guys really battled today,” head coach Grant Robbins said. “The course played tougher. The wind picked up and made the greens much firmer, so it was hard to get many good birdie looks. I’m really proud of how they stayed in it and finished the round strong.”

At the Norman Regional, Kilkenny’s Mark Power bounced back from a bitterly disappointing opening 77 to give Wake Forest a squeak in the team standings after a superb second round four-under 68.

Overall, the Demon Deacons were 13 strokes better from their opening round and were one stroke shy of the best round on the course. The round helped the Deacs move up two spots as they now are in ninth as a team and gained one stroke on the cutline.

“We played much better than we did yesterday and are playing better each and every nine holes that we play. We probably left a couple of shots out there today and will need another great round tomorrow. We will be off the first tee which is always better to start on that nine,” reflected Coach Haas.

Enniscorthy’s Paul Conroy added a two-over 74 to his opening 71 to drop to a tie for 12th individually as The Chattanooga Mocs enter the final day in second spot at the Auburn Regionals. As a team, the Mocs (even) sit one behind the host 13th-ranked Auburn with 575 (-1).

“This is a hard golf course,” Coach Blaine Woodruff shared. “This is regionals, it’s hard…it doesn’t matter how good your team is. It’s a hard week, it’s a lot of high stress and no matter how much you talk about trying to kind of stay in the moment and control what you can control, everybody knows what’s at stake.

“That was my takeaway. We got off to a little bit of a rocky front nine,” he continued. “It’s understandable. I mean, we slept on the lead in our first regional in nine years and none of these guys have ever experienced it before; so totally understand the nerves. Something that we’ve discussed all year is just fighting and valuing every shot. Every one of our guys were fighting for everything, and we had a heckuva back nine to keep us right in it and have a chance to win this thing.

“There’s no faking it out here on this course. You have to hit golf shots especially on those last four or five six holes, and, you know, I think that that’s going to give them some confidence today.”

At the Morgan Hill Regional, a second round 80 from Portumna’s Sam Murphy saw him drop outside the top-30 on the individual table with his Grand Canyon side 12 shots outside the top-5 and in need of a big final day at Institute Golf Club.

At the same venue, a second round 79 from Royal Dublin’s Louisville Cardinal Max Kennedy plummeted him down the individual board but there’s much still to play for with the Cards just outside the top-5 in a share of seventh, six strokes back.

After Wednesday’s final round, the top five teams will advance to the NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club next week.

And at the Salem Regional, Thomas Higgins’ Clemson side sit seven shots outside fifth place in seventh position with Higgins no doubt looking to improve on a pair of 75s to help his side progress.

  • Find full scoring from all NCAA Regionals HERE

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