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ETSU takes 2-shot lead into final day at Blackthorn

Joe Avento • Oct 13, 2018 at 10:33 PM

JONESBOROUGH — One more solid round of golf is all that stands between the East Tennessee State golf team and its first victory ever in its home tournament.

The Bucs retained their lead on the second day of the 21st annual Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club on Saturday, putting together a round of 9-under-par 279. They’ll take a two-stroke lead over Kent State into Sunday’s final round.

“It’s nice to still be leading,” said ETSU coach Fred Warren, whose team was 27 under through two rounds. “I’m proud of the guys. I think we’re in a good frame of mind. We’re where we want to be.”

The Bucs were led by Geuntae Kim’s 5-under 67. ETSU’s Shiso Go seized sole control of the individual lead after his 68 left him at 13-under 131.

Go, who opened with a tournament record-tying 63 on Friday, held a three-stroke lead over East Carolina’s Blake Taylor, who shot his second 67.

Go is trying to become the third ETSU player to win medalist honors, joining Rhys Davies (2005 and 2006) and Adrian Meronk (2015).

ETSU’s Jack Rhea, Trevor Hulbert and Dhaivat Pandya each shot 72 in the second round.

“It’s exciting,” Rhea said of the Bucs being in the lead. “We obviously haven’t played great as a team yet this year. We had a really good week of prep this week and we’re real confident as a team. It’s nice to see it paying off.”

Kent State has come from behind to win this tournament before, taking the title in 2011 with a 10-under final round, so coach Herb Page knows it’s there for the taking — unless the host school keeps its foot on the gas pedal.

“It feels like we’re playing awesome,” Page said. “It’s like ‘Come on, Fred. Give us a little break here. We’re 25 under par — and we don’t have the lead.’ East Tennessee State is just playing phenomenal. It’ll be fun tomorrow.”

Tennessee, coached by former ETSU golfer Brennan Webb, was in third place, six shots behind ETSU. Louisville was another shot back in fourth.

Kim’s 67 followed his opening 73.

“When we qualify here, the highest score I shoot is a 73,” said Kim, a senior from South Korea. “I usually shoot 66, 67 in qualifying. Today I decided to treat it like a qualifying round. I also worked on my putting yesterday after the round. So that helped, too.”

Warren said he expected a bounce-back day from Kim, the 2017 Southern Conference champion.

“Guentae, over the past couple of weeks, has probably been playing better than anybody on the team,” Warren said. “He’s a solid player and a good guy and he’s actually one of our team leaders.”

Kent State had two players tied for third. Bjarki Petursson and Will Kurtz were at 9 under par.

ETSU topped the field with 46 birdies through 36 holes.

The tournament record could be in jeopardy on Sunday. Virginia’s 2016 winning score of 35 under is the lowest total ever put together in the event’s 20 years. In addition, the individual scoring mark has a chance of falling. Hayden Buckley of Missouri shot 17 under par last year, the best 54-hole total in the tournament’s history.

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