PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIF.--Coaches and teams fight all year to perform well so that if they should qualify for the NCAA Championship they can get into the wave that tees off the first round in the afternoon and the second round in the morning. The theory goes that that positioning gives you the best chance to be near the top of the leader board after 36 holes.
Except, of course, when it doesn't.
Texas, the top-ranked team in the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll, had flashes of brilliance during Wednesday's second round at Riviera CC. Toni Hakula made a hole in one on the sixth hole en route to a 71 while Dylan Frittelli finished birdie-eagle on the 17th and 18th holes for a 72. But with player-of-the-year candidate Jordan Spieth and Cody Gribble shooting 79s, the Longhorns posted an 11-over 295 to leave them 17 over, 13 strokes behind Alabama, the clubhouse leader among schools that have finished 36 holes.
"I don' t feel like we played ridiculously poorly," Fields said afterward. "It was a tough day today because we had to take a big score."
Now these school must wait for the conclusion of the afternoon wave to see just how far down the leader board they'll be—and just how much ground they're going to have to make up.
"We've just got to come out tomorrow and be ourselves and play as good as we can," Fields said. "I think that will be enough."
Spieth's round was notable for just how quickly it turned south it played out. After making the turn at one under, the freshman split the fairway with an iron on the 10th tee, only to hit his wedge approach shot into a greenside bunker. He then proceeded to play his next four shots from the sand before finally making a three-footer for a triple-bogey 7.
Similarly, on the par-5 11th, Spieth had a wedge in his hand for his third shot only to miss the green and eventually make a double-bogey 7.
"I had two really good yardages with lob wedges in my hand, shots I expect to birdie more than 50 percent of the time, two of them in a row," Spieth lamented. "And instead of playing them 3-4 I played them 7-7."
He then proceeded to bogey the 12th and 15th holes and made a double on the 16th to shoot a back-nine 45.
Spieth said afterwards that he's been fighting some swing issues for the past few weeks, where he's been coming across the line after the takeaway. The problem has caused him to hook the ball, and forced him to adjust off the tee by hitting "a sawed off big cut."
"You can hit it well if your timing is right so I've been able to shoot some low rounds doing that," Spieth said. "But it's not going to be very consistent."
"As much as we all like to think [Spieth] is Superman, he is still a freshman," Fields said. "He's a great player and he had a tough day."
While some schools saw themselves tumble down the leader board, others rallied to inch their way up.
Washington was T-28 at one point during the second round, but managed to pull things together to shoot a two-over 286 Wednesday for 36-hole score of 14 over. Four of the five Huskies birdied the par-5 17th.
"That back nine was as gutsy a stretch of golf I've seen from our team ever," wrote Washington coach Matt Thurmond after the round on Twitter, his squad's mood upbeat as it headed to a Los Angeles Angels baseball game this evening. "The guys were so tough and resilient today."
Similarly, USC's two-over 286 in round 2 allowed the Trojans to sit at 16 over for two rounds and at least within distance of the lead teams.