ATLANTA, GA (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Freshman Nicolas Echavarria shot six-under par, 64, on Wednesday morning at the 2013 NCAA Championship to lead the No. 9 University of Arkansas men's golf team to a nine-under par day and into a tie for fifth as a team at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga. Echavarria is in a tie for second place as an individual, one stroke behind Arizona State's Jon Rahm who followed up a nine-under par first day with a two-over par second.
Echavarria's score combined with junior Sebastian Cappelen's three-under par day helped the Razorbacks post the round's lowest score and the second lowest team score of the tournament propelling the Razorbacks from 14th into their tie for fifth.
"As a team we did what we set out to do which was shoot under par and put ourselves in a position to make it into match play," Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "Getting into that top eight and continuing to play this week was our number one goal, but we still have a lot of work to do in the final round. Nicolas and Sebastian were phenomenal today. Nicolas was rarely in danger of making a bogey today; every putt was right in the center of the cup. Sebastian closed well and sank a tough putt on 18 to get to three under."
Echavarria's 64, six-under par, set an Arkansas record for a single-round at a NCAA Championship besting the mark of John Daly who shot 65 during the third round of the 1986 NCAA Championship at Bermuda Run Country Club in Winston-Salem, N.C. To achieve his record-setting day, the freshman was five-under par at the turn and closed with a birdie and eight pars over the toughest holes of the course. As a part of his five-under par front nine, Echavarria sank four consecutive birdies on holes No. 4 through No. 7 which included a nearly 50 foot putt on the par three, sixth. Finishing his round in second place individually, he then had to wait six hours to know where his score of six-under would stand following the second day's action.
Cappelen earned his three-under par score after sinking four birdies and a bogey during Wednesday's action. Opening with a birdie on No. 1, he stayed at one-under par until he sank his second birdie on No. 9, making the turn at two-under par. Another birdie on No. 10 had Cappelen at three under until his lone bogey on the par four, 520-yard, 16th that was playing into a headwind. After a par on No. 17, Cappelen hit his second shot on No. 18 roughly eight feet past the hole, leaving him a tough downhill putt back to the hole for his final birdie.
Along with Echavarria and Cappelen's eight-under par, senior Austin Cook and freshman Taylor Moore also counted to the Razorback score on Wednesday with rounds of even par, 70. Cook carded three birdies and three bogeys during his round and saved his best for last when his tee shot on No. 18 rested under trees on the left side of the fairway. Needing to hit a low shot to get under branches, yet also carry a fair distance to the green, Cook's shot came out low and fast and hit a ridge just right of the final green stopping the ball's momentum and nestling softly on the green where he putted in for par.
Moore also sank three birdies and three bogeys during the second round, playing the first nine holes at two-under par and sinking a birdie putt on No. 17 to get back to even. The first-year player played both par five holes at even par and recorded a bogey on just one of the four par three holes.
Sophomore Thomas Sorensen completed the Razorback competition on Wednesday with a good score of two-over par, 72. Opening with a birdie, Sorensen would sink a second birdie on No. 5 and had three bogeys during his first nine holes to make the turn at one-over par. He found a groove on the back nine with six pars before a bogey on No. 16, but closed with two additional pars for his final score.
The Razorbacks' fifth-place finish through the second round places it in a group with Alabama and Illinois for Thursday's final round of stroke play. Arkansas tees off at 12:20 p.m. eastern from the first tee and needs to place among the top eight teams in the competition in order to advance to match play and a chance to play for the national championship. Currently, the Razorbacks are four shots clear of ninth-place Central Florida (+1) for a trip to the match play portion of the event.
Heading into Thursday's final round of stroke play, No 7 and host Georgia Tech leads the way with a score of 12-under par and is trailed by No. 1 California (-11), No. 4 Texas (-10) and No. 2 Alabama (-9). Arkansas and Illinois are tied for fifth at three-under par with Arizona State (-2) and No. 21 Texas A&M (even) rounding out the pivotal top eight spots.