No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast took a few shots on the chin Monday but learned a lot of lessons about the course the national championship will be played on this year. The Bulldogs trail No. 3 Kirkwood by 13 shots after the first two rounds of the NJCAA Tournament Preview in Joplin, Mo.
Gulf Coast finished the first 18 holes at 19-over, and four of the Bulldogs shot lower scores in the second round to finish the day at 30-over. The final round is scheduled for Tuesday, and Jon Hopkins (So., Hockerill Anglo-European College/Bishop's Stortford, England) is tied for third in the individual standings at 1-under.
"Kirkwood's a good team, and it's nice playing against these teams we don't see all year instead of just facing them at nationals," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "We didn't play great, but we had four rounds in the 70s each round on a tough course. Jon's right up there near the lead. We're in the hunt."
Gulf Coast trailed Kirkwood for three rounds at last year's national championship before passing the Eagles in the final nine holes to finish third.
The tournament is being played at the 6,842-yard Twin Hills Golf and Country Club, where the national championship will be played May 19-22. It bit some of the Bulldogs in the first round. The five golfers had seven double-bogeys in the first 12 holes.
"This is a good chance for me to talk to them, look at those stats, and see how many holes they can hit irons instead of drives to miss some of those doubles," Snell said. "It's really good for that, being able to establish a strategy for the national championship."
Hopkins erased a double-bogey of his own on No. 8 with three birdies in the first round, and overcame three front-nine bogeys in the afternoon with four birdies on the back. Jake Crosson (So., New Hope/Columbus) and Nathan Woolard (So., Poplar Bluff/Poplar Bluff, Mo.) finished 8-over, tied for 9th. Cameron Mobley (So., Northwest Rankin/Brandon) is three more shots back in 16th.
Patrick Powers (So., St. Stanislaus/Gulfport) rallied from a first-round 84 to shoot 78 and is tied for 29th.
|2. Gulf Coast||307-299—606|
|4. Des Moines Area||308-310—618|
|5. North Central Missouri||317-313—630|
|6. Iowa Lakes||308-328—636|
|10. Mineral Area||344-350—694|
|3. Jon Hopkins||72-71—143 (-1)|
|9. Jake Crosson||78-74—152 (+8)|
|16. Cameron Mobley||79-76—155 (+11)|
|T29. Patrick Powers||84-76—162 (+18)|
|T33. Nathan Woolard||78-89—167 (+23)|
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.