BYU's Oscar Alvarez is tied for fifth overall, four strokes off the pace. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
OWINGS MILLS -- The second round of the 2005 NCAA Men's Golf Championship featured tougher playing conditions Thursday but BYU rode the steady play of its top three golfers to stay in contention at the tournament being played at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings, Mills, Md.
Facing windy conditions on the 7,131-yard Championship course, the Cougars posted a 10-over-par 290 score to share ninth place with Augusta State at 575, just six shots behind third place Georgia Tech (569) and eight strokes back off second-place Tennessee (567). Georgia tops the leaderboard with a two-round 558 total after being the only team to score under par Thursday with a two-under 284.
"The conditions were more challenging today, but I thought the guys hung in there," BYU coach Bruce Brockbank said. "We stepped up and finished after a stretch where we gave up five shots on three holes. We are right in the thick of it. We just need to come out tomorrow and shoot a good score."
The Cougars were led by junior Oscar Alvarez and seniors Greg Machtaler and Ron Harvey, Jr., who recorded rounds of 71, 71 and 72, respectively. Sophomores Jake Ellison and Nick Becker finished with scores of 76 and 77 on the challenging par-70 course.
Brockbank praised the steady performances of his top three players as Alvarez, Machtaler and Harvey, Jr. were able to contend with the tougher conditions to remain close to par. Adding to his first-round 67, Alvarez is tied for fifth individually, just four strokes off the pace, with a two-under 138 total.
"I had my putter going a bit better yesterday, but I struck the ball well today," Alvarez said. "I played pretty well overall."
Alvarez made the turn at one-over and didn't give up another stroke over his final nine holes. After a bogey at the par-4 5th hole (his 14th hole as BYU started the day on No. 10), Alvarez recovered two holes later by hitting a nice wedge shot to six feet on the par-5 7th to help him card his second birdie of the round.
Machtaler scattered four bogeys with three birdies to equal Alvarez for team second-round honors at one-over-par 71.
"I played better than the score would indicate," Machtaler said. "It was a tough day with the wind, and the greens were fast and firm, but I hit a lot of good iron shots."
One of those shots came on the par-3 12th hole when Machtaler fired a 6-iron to within five feet to set up his first birdie of the day.
Harvey, Jr., made nine straight pars to start the day on his way to a two-over 72 scorecard.
Pepperdine's Michael Putnam leads the field after back-to-back rounds of three-under-par 67. First-round leader Major Manning of Augusta State is one stroke back at 135, followed by Georgia Tech's Roberto Castro and Washington's James Lepp, both at 137. Four golfers are tied for fifth with Alvarez at 138.
All 30 teams in the tournament will continue play in Friday's third round before the field is cut to 15 teams for Saturday's final round. BYU placed ninth at last year's NCAA Championship.