Kent State has come from behind to win the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club in the past. Now the Golden Flashes get to see if they can hold a lead.
On a Saturday afternoon ripe for scoring, Kent State shot nine under par to grab a two-stroke lead over Virginia Tech. The Golden Flashes were at 564, 12 under par, through two days. The Hokies, who won here in 2007, shot six under in the second round.
“When we won it two years ago, we came from 10 back and shot 10 under the last day,” Kent State coach Herb Page said. “It’s gonna take 10 under tomorrow.”
Virginia used the best single-round team score in tournament history, 16 under-par, to move into third place at nine under. First-round leader East Tennessee State struggled on Saturday, posting a three-over-par score and will begin today’s final round four shots out of the lead.
“The golf course is perfect,” Page said. “Conditions, the green speed .... everything is perfect. The thing I like about when you come here, it’s very fair. They could make this place play five shots tougher. They just give you a chance. That’s why we keep coming back.”
No team took more advantage of those scoring chances than Virginia. The team’s nickname is the Cavaliers, but for one day at least, it should have been the Eagles.
The Cavs posted three eagles en route to a tournament-record score of 16-under-par 272. It beat the previous mark of 274 held by Clemson (1998), TCU (2001) and Southern California (2001).
“Very blessed to shoot a round like that,” said Virginia coach Bowen Sargent, whose team won this tournament in 2010. “It was really good playing. All five guys played very well. It was a heck of a day.”
Virginia freshman Derek Bard shot eight-under-par 64 to tie the single-round tournament record jointly held by TCU’s Adam Rubinson (2001) and Tennessee’s Chris Paisley (2007).
It gave Bard a share of the second-round lead at nine under par. Virginia Tech’s Scott Vincent shot 68 to get to nine under as well.
Bard, who got things going when he holed out a pitching wedge for eagle at the par-four second hole, said he began thinking about his round when he was six under through 13.
“I was like ‘wow,’ ” Bard said. “But I collected my thoughts there and came back to earth and back to the present. I’ve done it before where I got off to a good start and then started thinking about it and fell apart at the end. It was nice to keep things together coming down the stretch.”
Virginia also got a 66 from Denny McCarthy, who added a par-four eagle of his own when he holed out on No. 1. Jin Soo Park pitched at No. 10 during his 70 for Virginia’s third eagle.
Meanwhile, ETSU began the day with a seven-stroke lead and lost ground by being the only team among the top eight to shoot over par.
The Bucs got a 69 from freshman Mateusz Gradecki that left him five under for the tournament.
“That’s my best tournament so far,” Gradecki said. “I’m starting to play a bit better. It was a rough start for me. It’s not easy to adjust so quickly. I just changed my clubs and I’m starting to feel really good.”
Rhys Pugh had a wild 72 that included a chip-in for eagle, three bogeys and a triple bogey at the11th hole when his drive bounced off a cart path out of play.
Pugh finished with a birdie to get back to even and finish 36 holes in six under par, good for a fourth-place tie. Also for the Bucs, Chris Hickman shot 74, Adrian Meronk 76 and Gudmundur Kristjansson 77.
“We did some good things, we just ran into a few mistakes,” said ETSU coach Fred Warren, whose team was forced to count two triple bogeys. “We hung in there and we’re still in it. We have a chance. Hopefully we can make up for it tomorrow.”
Action begins today at 8:30 a.m. The leaders -- Kent State, Virginia Tech and Virginia -- begin at 10:10 a.m. ETSU is grouped with Tennessee and UNC-Wilmington and begins at 9:20 a.m.