The USC Beaufort men's golf team is in great shape to win its fourth tournament in five tries this fall, as the Sand Sharks take a five-shot lead into today's final round of the Southeastern Fire Invitational at Eaglebrooke Golf Club in Lakeland, Fla.
USCB shot 291 in the morning round and 286 in the afternoon Monday for a team score of 577 and sits atop a crowded leaderboard. SCAD Savannah is second at 582, St. Thomas and Embry-Riddle are tied for third at 583, and Johnson & Wales is fifth at 584
George Thacker leads the Sand Sharks at 5-under par 139 and sits in second overall, one shot behind Estaban Aristizabal of St. Thomas, who carded a pair of 69s.
USCB coach Chris Cuneo said Thacker used a new driver to take advantage of reachable par 5s and continue his strong play after tying for second at last month's SeeMore NAIA Intercollegiate at Wilmington Island Club.
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Thacker had plenty of help from his teammates Monday, as Chris Lane II shot 145, Jon Pannone shot 146, Luke McClellan sits at 148 and Jack Bingham is at 151.
The event was a late addition to the fall schedule for the Sand Sharks, who are ranked second in the nation behind Oklahoma City University in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf NAIA Coaches Poll, but it's considered one of the season's major championships for Sun Conference teams, so USCB coach Chris Cuneo wants to see his team finish off the victory to solidify its spot as the league's best team.
"We played good today, but there were a lot of good scores out there today," Cuneo said. "The greens are so good, and there's no wind really, so there are a lot of low numbers out there and we have to take advantage."
SOUTHEASTERN FIRE INVITATIONAL
Eaglebrooke Golf Club, Lakeland, Fla.
Top team scores
USC Beaufort 577; SCAD Savannah 582; St. Thomas 583; Embry-Riddle 583; Johnson & Wales 584.
George Thacker 72-67--139; Chris Lane II 70-75--145; Jon Pannone 75-71--146; Luke McClellan 75-73--148; Jack Bingham 74-77--151.