PINEHURST, N.C. (April 20, 2015) – Despite sitting tied with UNC Greensboro midway through the second round, the ETSU men’s golf team used a strong finish to add to its lead at the Southern Conference Championship on Monday at Pinehurst.
The 40th-ranked Buccaneers, who shot a 1-over 289 in round two, increased their lead by three shots and enter Tuesday’s final round with a six-stroke advantage at 1-under-par 575. UNCG registered the lowest round on Monday at 1-under 287, but the Spartans stand in second-place at 5-over-par 581, while Chattanooga is third at 8-over-par 584.
“We got off to another slow start today, but we hung in there and played well on the back nine to increase our lead,” said head coach Fred Warren, whose team is looking to recorded their 23rd conference championship. Adrian was able to bounce back and turn in another great round, while Mateusz was strong on the back nine. I am also pleased with how Tom played today in the second round.”
The storyline between ETSU and UNCG was the play on the back nine as ETSU’s four countable scores turned in a 4-under, compared to the Spartans’ 2-over, resulting in the six-shot difference.
“UNCG was playing ahead of us and got off to a good start, but we were able to distance ourselves with our play on the back nine,” said Warren. “It could’ve been a different story if we didn’t get things going on the back nine. Overall, we are delighted to be in the lead and hopefully we achieve our goal of winning a conference championship tomorrow.”
Junior Adrian Meronk (Wroclaw, Poland) posted his second straight round of 3-under 69 to move into second-place and is two shots off the lead at 6-under-par 138. After bogeying two of his first four holes to begin the morning, Meronk played the final 12 holes at 5-under to move two spots up the leaderboard. Meronk – the 18th-ranked golfer – recorded consecutive birdies on No. 7 and 8, while coming away with an eagle on the par-5, 510-yard No. 10, before picking up another birdie on No. 13 to cap off the late rally.
“I didn’t get off to a good start, but I was able to come back and finish well,” said Meronk, who reached the green in two before sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on No. 10. “My tee shots and putting were good today and I am happy with my score. Our strong finish meant a lot because it increased our lead and we are looking forward to playing the final round tomorrow.”
Sophomore Mateusz Gradecki (Oborniki Śląskie, Poland) was another key piece in ETSU’s late charge as he carded his two birdies on the back nine to finish 1-over for the round and is in fourth-place at 3-under-par 141 for the championship."I had tough start and came back with good birdies on par 5s on the back nine," said Gradecki. "I'm happy for the guys to play consistent today and we are in the good position going into tomorrow. I will do my best to help the team tomorrow to grab that conference win."
Meronk and Gradecki are still chasing Western Carolina’s J.T. Poston as the reigning conference champion fired a 2-under 70 in round two and holds the lead at 8-under-par 136 following 36-holes of competition.
Senior Tom Heggarty (Cheshire, England) bounced back from his opening round 81 by shooting a 1-over 73 on Monday, while junior Gudmundur Kristjansson (Reykjavik, Iceland) registered his second straight 74 and is tied for 17th at 4-over-par 148.
The Bucs will be grouped with UNCG and Chattanooga in Tuesday’s final round. Heggarty will be the first Buccaneer out on Pinehurst No. 9 as he tees off at 8:50 a.m.
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