May 16, 2014
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Louisiana Tech sophomore Victor Lange entered Friday's second round of the NCAA Regionals needing to overcome the memories of a tough opening 18 holes as well as nagging back spasms.
He did both.
Less than 24 hours after shooting an opening round 76, Lange came back to Briggs Ranch Golf Club and recorded a round of four-under-par 68. It was an impressive 18 holes that included one eagle, six birdies, eight pars, two bogeys and a double bogey and that saw Lange move from a tie for 57th place entering the day to a tie for 18th place heading into Saturday's final round.
"I had a couple more birdies today," said Lange, whose 68 was tied for the 6th best round of the day. "I didn't finish the way I would like, but it was an awesome round. I am happy that I played myself back into the tournament. I imagine I will have to come out and do the same thing tomorrow (to have a chance)."
Bulldog head coach Jeff Parks said that Friday's effort was what he expects to see from his star pupil on the biggest stage in collegiate golf.
"He played great today," Parks said. "It is more characteristic of what I'm used to seeing from Victor. All in all, he played great."
Lange joined Southeastern Louisiana's Grady Brame and Columbia's Christopher Chu in the day's pairing as the trio teed off on hole No. 10. After a couple of back-to-back pars to open the day, Lange recorded his first birdie at the par 4, 466-yard No. 12 where he stuck a 5-iron approach shot to within eight feet of the hole. He calmly sank the birdie putt to go to one under.
Following a par on No. 13, Lange birdied the 314-yard par 4 No. 14. After almost driving the green off the tee box, Lange hit a pitch shot and then drained a 25-foot birdie putt to get to two under par.
His first mistake of the day came on the par 3 No. 15 when he pulled his tee shot into the tall weeds far to the right of the green. However, Lange recovered with a tough second shot which landed on the green before rolling on the slope past the hole and onto the fringe. Two putts later, he sat at one under par.
The mistake wouldn't linger for long.
The shot of the day for Lange came on the par four, 413-yard No. 16. After a 363-yard drive off the tee box, Lange hit a sand wedge that hit on the green, bounced twice and then trickled into the cup for an eagle 2.
"That was a great shot," Lange said. "I didn't even see it go in. They just told me it went in. That was sweet, got me going and gave me confidence for the rest of the round."
"It was a neat shot," Parks said. "He busted his tee ball ... and had a 50 yard shot (to the hole). He played it perfectly, pitched it and it just trickled into the hole for an eagle. It was a momentum starter for him, and he was cruising along pretty well. He chipped in on No. 1 and continued to keep his momentum going. It was a good ride today for him."
Pars on holes No. 17 and 18 sent Lange into the turn at three-under-par and only one over for the event. However, his day was far from done.
Standing on the tee box on hole No. 1, Lange knew the next three holes had been troublesome for him back in March when the Bulldogs played in the Lone Star Invitational - a tournament that saw him tie for 30th overall.
For the second straight day, Lange's three-wood tee shot found the fairway bunker. After hitting his eight-iron out of the bunker and just on the fringe off the back of the green, Lange chipped in for the second time on the day. The birdie was the first in a string of three over the next four holes.
"I got pretty hot for a while," Lange said. "I was six under through 13 holes. I didn't finish it off like I wanted, but I'm obviously very, very happy with the way things went today."
Following birdie putts from six feet on holes No. 3 and No. 4 that saw Lange go to six under par, the Johannesburg, South Africa native barely missed another five-foot birdie putt on No. 5.
His biggest hiccup of the day came on the par 4 No. 6. After driving his tee shot into a bunker running alongside a pond, Lange played a smart shot out of the bunker to within 50 yards of the green. His third shot landed on the green past the hole and spun back to within 12 feet. However, Lange ran his par putt three feet past the hole and then missed the bogey putt coming back.
The double bogey left him sitting at four-under-par.
Lange got one of the strokes back on the par 5 No. 7. A driver off the tee and a 3-iron on his second shot left him in the greenside bunker. However, and up and down which included rolling home a seven-foot putt saw Lange record his sixth birdie of the afternoon and move back down to five-under-par.
Hole No. 8 - a par 3 - saw Lange's tee shot land on the fringe, pin high. However, he rolled his putt 12 feet past the hole and then missed his par putt coming back. The bogey four left him at four-under-par heading into 9.
Lange had one more chance at a birdie on the final hole as his approach shot stopped 15 feet from the flag stick. His birdie attempt was just off and he tapped in for a par and a round of 68.
"We talked about it this morning," Parks said. "He needed to just try to go out and shoot a red number and get back to par. He put himself back in position. We will go out tomorrow and try to fire a magical round again. The birdies are out there for him. I think he is capable of climbing the board again."
TCU's Julien Brun leads the tournament with a 36-hole total of 10-under-par 134. In order for Lange to advance to the NCAA Championships, he must finish as the top individual golfer that isn't a member of one of the top five finishing teams. He currently trails that individual by five strokes heading into Saturday.
"I am going to try to emulate today's round," Lange said. "Hopefully I can get some fortunate breaks here and there and have a few putts go in. We will just have to wait and see what happens. I don't think there is anything differently that I can do."
Lange will pair with Arizona's Eric Oja and Northwestern's Andrew Whalen with a 9:50 a.m. tee time on Saturday.