DUBLIN, Ohio – Cal (281-280 – 561, -7) continued its dominating play of late over the first 36 holes of the Jack Nicklaus Invitational on Sunday at the par-71, 7,455-yard Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club. Cal, who won by 30 strokes in its previous event at the Saint Mary’s Invitational last week, leads its closest competitor by 12 strokes. The Golden Bears have three players in the top four after two rounds, including second-round leader Brandon Hagy (71-67 – 138, -4).
Pace Johnson (71-68 – 139, -3) and Shotaro Ban (68-72 – 140, -2) are tied for second and fourth place, respectively. Michael Weaver (71-73 – 144, +2) and Michael Kim (72-76 – 148, +6) are tied for 12th and 22nd.
“This was a really good day against a good field,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “They’re still sorting out the rankings early in the season but I can tell that teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kent State are good teams, probably the best teams we’ve seen so far.”
“This is a tremendously difficult golf course,” Desimone added. “All you have to do is look and see that we’re the only team under par. That tells you that this is a real challenge. You really have to play well, and that’s what we did after a bit of a slow start on the first nine holes. We really picked it up on the last 27.”
Oklahoma (291-282 – 573, +5) is in second place after two rounds, followed by Oklahoma State (292-285 – 577, +9), first-round co-leader Purdue (281-305 – 586, +18) and Kent State (293-298 – 591, +23).
Hagy’s second-round 67 tied for the lowest score of the day to lead Cal to the best team round of the day over the final 18 holes. Hagy started on the 10th hole and had five birdies during the round to just one bogey. He birdied the par-five 12th and par-three 13th in back-to-back fashion before his lone bogey on the par-four 14th. Hagy added birdies on the par-four 16th and third, and par-five sixth. In his opening round he carded a three-under 33 on his back nine with birdies on the par-four first and second, as well as the sixth. His bogeys came on the 12th, par-three 17th and par-four 18th.
Hagy has been in the running for individual medalist honors in each of his previous two events in 2013-14 with a second-place showing at the Gopher Invitational and a third-place finish at the Saint Mary’s Invitational.
“I played very solid today by hitting a lot of good drives and making some good putts to keep the rounds going,” Hagy said. “I was over par early but fought back to be the leader going into tomorrow. Every time you are in contention you gain experience and that’s what I will use tomorrow.”
Johnson had a team-high 10 birdies over two rounds with a team-high five in the first and five more in his second to match the five recorded by Hagy. Johnson, who started on the 13th hole, had second-round birdies on the 18th, first, par-five fourth, sixth and 12th. Johnson also had two bogeys on 15 and seven. Johnson rallied from a difficult first-round start that had him three-over after three holes following a double bogey on the 14th and a bogey on the par-four 15th. He got into the red by playing the next four holes in seven-under with birdies on the 16th, 18th, third and fourth. Johnson would bogey the par-three eighth and par-four 10th but rebounded with a birdie on 12 to finish his opening round at even par.
“Despite my pretty poor start I was able to gather myself and play some great golf after that,” Johnson said. “I felt very confident today with my ball striking and was able to make a lot of really good putts. The key for me was making good decisions if I was not in good position on a hole, and I definitely did that.”
Ban reached five-under for the tournament after being two-under through the first 13 holes of his second round before playing the final five holes in three-over par with bogeys on the par-four seventh, ninth and 11th. He birdied a pair of par-threes (13, 17) and the par-five sixth along with making a bogey on 16 before his struggles down the stretch. Ban had an incredible run of five straight birdies during his opening round that started on the fourth hole and ended on the eighth with a pair of the birdies on par-three holes (5, 8), one on a par-four (7) and two on par-fives (4, 6). He also had a birdie on 18 to give him six birdies during his opening round, the most by any Cal player on the day. He gave three of the strokes back with a bogey on his second hole of the day on the 13th and a double bogey on his final hole of the first round on the par-four 11th.
“Both myself and the team played well today,” Ban said. “I finished both rounds poorly but hung in there.”
Weaver was up-and-down during a day that included eight birdies, six bogeys and two double bogeys.
Kim totaled seven birdies, one double bogey and 11 bogeys.
Cal will wrap up the Jack Nicklaus Invitational on Monday with Kim the first of five Cal players to tee off at 9:05 a.m. ET/6:05 p.m. PT. All Cal players will start on the first hole and tee off in 10-minute increments following Kim. Cal will play with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“We have more work to do here,” Desimone said.
JACK NICKLAUS INVITATIONAL (HOSTED BY OHIO STATE)
SCARLET COURSE AT THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY GOLF CLUB (PAR-71, 7,455 YARDS)
TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
1. Cal (281-280 – 561, -7)
2. Oklahoma (291-282 – 573, +5)
3. Oklahoma State (292-285 – 577, +9)
4. Purdue (281-305 – 586, +18)
5. Kent State (293-298 – 591, +23)
6. Mississippi State (300-292 – 592, +24)
T7. Ohio State (299-299 – 598, +30)
T7. Ball State (298-300 – 598, +30)
9. East Tennessee State (295-304 – 599, +31)
10. Long Beach State (300-300 – 600, +32)
11. Eastern Michigan (307-298 – 605, +37)
12. North Carolina (300-313 – 613, +45)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD – INDIVIDUAL LEADER (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
1. Brandon Hagy (Cal) 71-67 – 138 (-4)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
1. Brandon Hagy 71-67 – 138 (-4)
T2. Pace Johnson 71-68 – 139 (-3)
T4. Shotaro Ban 68-72 – 140 (-2)
T12. Michael Weaver 71-73 – 144 (+2)
T22. Michael Kim 72-76 – 148 (+6)