Second round suspended due to darkness; six teams still on the course
GLENVIEW, Ill. - With the top five teams unofficially separated by two strokes, this year's Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge is shaping up for another repeat down-to-the-wire finish.
In last year's inaugural event, held at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore., Minnesota finished in a first-place tie with USC, but the Golden Gophers won the event based on tiebreaker rules.
Monday's second round was halted due to darkness, leaving six teams (Minnesota, Ohio State, UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Illinois) on the golf course. They will conclude the second round at 8 a.m. Tuesday and then the third round will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a shotgun start for all 14 teams.
With as many as six holes to play in the second round, Arizona is in sixth place at a cumulative five strokes over par. Minnesota and Arizona State are tied at three-under par, two strokes ahead of three teams (Ohio State, Northwestern and UCLA) tied for third place. Of the top-six teams on the leader board, only Arizona State was able to complete the second round.
Officially, the host Wildcats are in first place, owning a 1-stroke lead over Ohio State and a 2-stroke advantage over Arizona State. Unofficially, Minnesota and Arizona State stand at 3-under, while Ohio State, Northwestern and UCLA are 1-under.
Tuesday's race for the individual championship figures to be just as exciting as the team race. Arizona State's Niklas Lemke and Washington's James Lepp, the 2005 NCAA champion, are both atop the leaderboard at 5-under. Lemke and Lepp both completed their second rounds.
UCLA's Daniel Im, who did not finish the second round, is 1-under officially but 4-under when play was suspended. Northwestern's David Merkow (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead Union) and Arizona State's Alejandro Canizares, last year's Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge champion and the 2003 NCAA champ, are 3-under with completed second rounds. Merkow fired rounds of 71 and 70 for his 3-under 141.
Individually, Arizona is led by sophomore Trey Denton, who is three-under for the tournament and four-under in the second round with three holes to play. Juniors Henry Liaw and Josh Esler are both three over for the tournament with six holes remaining in the event. Sophomore Travis Esway is a cumulative four-over par with two holes to go, while junior Nathan Tyler is five over with three holes remaining.
The tournament rotates annually between three courses -- Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes in Oregon, and The Glen Club in Glenview. All three courses are owned or managed by KemperSports Management in Northbrook, Ill.
A home trophy listing each year's individual, team and conference champion is being housed at Bandon Dunes.
In the conference challenge, the Pac-10 won the inaugural event with a combined scored of plus-162 to the Big Ten's plus-191. Each conference counted its low six scores of each round to determine the challenge winner.
Next year's event returns to Oregon and Pacific Dunes.