May 15, 2014
SAN ANTONIO - After striking the ball well during Wednesday's practice round, Louisiana Tech sophomore Victor Lange struggled to find that same rhythm during round one of the 2014 NCAA Regionals at Briggs Ranch Golf Club on Thursday.
While Lange made history on Thursday, becoming the first LA Tech golfer to ever qualify for the NCAA Division I Golf Regionals, the opening 18 holes didn't provide the success he had hoped for heading into the three-day event.
Lange totaled three birdies, eight pars and seven bogeys - including three in the final four holes - to shoot an opening round 76, where he is in a 10-way tie for 57th place heading into Friday's second round.
"The day wasn't very good," Lange said. "I think that was my highest score in months, and not at all what we were looking for. I just didn't finish either nine the way I wanted too. I think I got unfortunate (breaks) here and there. When I thought I hit good shots, they didn't work out. I'm just hoping for a better tomorrow."
After saving a par on hole No. 1 despite hitting his drive into a fairway bunker, Lange came back and bogeyed the par 4, 434-yard No. 2. However, two holes later, Lange pulled himself back to even par when he recorded his first birdie of the round on the par 4, 345-yard No. 4. On the hole, Lange hit driver and then spun a sand wedge back to within six feet of the hole, where he sank the putt.
However, Lange shot plus two over the final four holes with three bogeys and a birdie on No. 7.
"It was a struggle," said Louisiana Tech head coach Jeff Parks. "He was not on top of his game. What could go wrong went wrong for him. He got a couple of birdies here and there, and had a chance to get back to even par, but then missed a couple of short putts."
Lange settled down early on the back nine, recording four pars and a birdie to pull within one over par. His most impressive hole of the day came on the par 5, 603-yard No. 13 where he stung a drive 338 yards to the middle of the fairway. Lange then hit a cut 3-wood to within 15 feet of the pin, leaving himself an eagle putt.
However, his eagle putt just whispered past the hole as he tapped in for the birdie four.
The Johannesburg, South Africa native then made an aggressive play on the par 4, 315-yard hole No. 14, roping a driver pin high but just off the fringe. Misfortune struck when his chip attempt was affected by a hidden rock under the ball as he came up 20 feet short of the cup. A two-putt later left Lange with par and still sitting at plus one.
Another opportunity presented itself on the par 3, No. 15 as Lange hit a well-shaped 4-iron just on the fringe on the back of the green, leaving himself a 20-foot putt for birdie. Lange missed the birdie putt, rolling it three feet past the hole and then missed the par putt coming back. Instead of sitting at even par, he was now back to plus two.
After a par of No. 16, Lange ran into more adversity on 17 and 18.
"Coming in (to the club house) he had two unfortunate breaks (on 17 and 18)," Parks said. "He hit a six iron way longer than he normally does on 17 (and ended up in the bunker). He spun one about 50 yards off the front of the green on No. 18 and ended up with a bogey. It was a tough day."
Lange will tee off Friday at 9:40 a.m. paired with Southeastern Louisiana's Grady Brame and Columbia's Christopher Chu.
"The winds are going to be blowing the next two days, and I think that plays to my advantage," Lange said. "If I can post some red numbers, I could move up the leaderboard. I will just try to do my best."
"He has 36 holes to play," Parks said. "He is the kind of guy that can light it up and shoot a low round and put himself in contention. He didn't come close to playing his best today, but he will have another chance tomorrow."
Fans can follow in-depth coverage of Lange's second round through Twitter updates on @LATechGolf and on live scoring at golfstat.com.