Stanford men move into lead at NCAA golf regional


National player of the year candidate Maverick McNealy shot a 5-under 67, with five birdies during a bogey-free front nine, to help the Stanford men's golf team rise into the lead, from seventh, of the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional Friday on the Finley golf course in North Carolina.

McNealy had two birdies and as many bogeys on his back nine to finish with a 5-under 67. McNealy moved 11 spots in the individual race, one shot behind clubhouse leader J.T. Poston (-8) of Western Carolina.

The Cardinal followed its 2-over-par 290 and seventh-place showing in round one with a 13-under 275 -- including four scores under par.

First-place Stanford is one shot ahead of UNC Charlotte (-1) and five shots clear of third-place Florida State (-6). The next best score on the day behind Stanford's was McNeese State's 4-under.

"I'm proud of the way the guys played today," Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. "The breeze was down and to get off to a good start one through five, it really helped us. We talked about playing boring golf today, hitting a lot of greens and two-putting a lot and taking our birdie opportunities when we can get them."

Each of Stanford's golfers enter the final day among the top 32 individuals in the 75-person field.

"You can't slow down with this field. You have to put the gas pedal down," Ray said. "We've been in this position before, both on the other side of it and leading, so they will handle themselves and believe that every putt you make now is one you don't have to make later. That is the adage we will take."

McNealy relied on his steady putter and made a 15-footer on 14 for a birdie, a three-footer for birdie on 15, and then a 20-footer on 17.

"I woke up today and felt great," McNealy said. "Everything was working and I putted great from the start. It wasn't that pretty coming in, but I feel so much better today physically, and I got a lot of rest yesterday, and I think it's the biggest difference … And I think I'll feel even better tomorrow."

Boote's 4-under 68 included five birdies, three of which came on the final four holes. Boote is tied for 15th along with Franklin Huang, who was even through 10 and finished 3-under on the day.

"I hit a great shot to about seven feet on four, and Boote was on the other fairway, giving me a little clap and a tip of the hat," McNealy said. "I knew he was playing well. It is fun to see your teammates out there and playing well."

Viraat Badhwar punched in four birdies during a 1-under 71 performance, and Jeffrey Swegle was even.

The top five teams and low individual outside those five teams advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be played at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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