Photo by Jason Roberts
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. — Their fingernails may be chewed down to the cuticles after a nerve-wracking second day at the NCAA Division III Championships, but the Wittenberg Tigers are among just 15 teams that will shoot for the title after making the cut by a single stroke.
The Tigers carded a sizzling 293 on Day 2 on the Las Colinas Course to move from a four-way tie for 20th after the opening round into a tie for 14th place with defending national champion Greensboro. Host Oglethorpe leads the tournament by a stunning 14 strokes with a two-day total of 577, followed by top-ranked Methodist at 591. Then a large group of teams are clustered between third and 14th, separated by a mere seven strokes with two rounds to play at Mission Inn Resort.
The Tigers made the cut even after shooting 309 on the far more challenging El Campeon Course in the opening round. After teeing off in the final group on Tuesday, the Tigers were part of the 7 a.m. tee time on Wednesday, and for about an hour they were the leading team in the clubhouse with a score of 602 overall.
Slowly, Wittenberg moved up the leaderboard. However, it wasn't until St. Thomas' top two players both bogeyed the 18th hole about four hours after the Tigers' round had ended that Wittenberg secured its spot under the cut line.
The key for Wittenberg all year has been depth, with no less than 10 players moving in and out of the lineup as Head Coach Jeff Roope sought a group of players that could consistently post low scores. Playing in the No. 5 position for the Tigers in the first two rounds at the NCAA Tournament, sophomore David Wetterich (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) came up big, first rallying from a frustrating front nine on Tuesday to card an even-par score on the back nine, and then posting the second-best score of the tourney's second round with a career-low 69.
Wetterich stands 17th individually with a two-day total of three-over-par 147.
Just as importantly, junior Craig Osterbrock (Wilmington, Ohio/Wilmington) overcame a disastrous 87 on the opening day to shoot 73 in the second round.
"It was nice to get off to a fast start and set the bar for the day," Roope said. "David's 69 continued to prove how dependent we are on all our players, and Craig's 73 was a perfect illustration of the short-term memory needed when playing team golf.
"We are thrilled to be moving on and competing in a tightly bunched field of great teams."
Rounding out the individual scores for Wittenberg, freshman Alex Andrews (Kirtland, Ohio/Gilmour Academy) stands 69th with a two-day total of 153 after shooting 75 in the second round. Sophomore Jack Uecker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) is tied with Andrews after posting a 78 in the second round, and senior Jordan Millice (Cable, Ohio/Triad) is right behind at 154 after carding a 76 on Day 2.
"Moving Day" for the Tigers opens with an 8 a.m. tee time on the El Campeon Course. Follow all the action live via the NCAA website.