Big-time turnaround puts Blue Raiders in prime position

Middle Tennessee in third entering final round of Sam Hall Invite

October 30, 2006 · MT Media Relations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Talk about turnarounds. The Middle Tennessee men's golf team did its best Jekyll-Hyde impersonation at the Sam Hall Invitational, hosted by Southern Miss, Monday and now the Blue Raiders find themselves in prime position to cap what has been a strong fall with a title performance at the Canebrake Country Club.

Middle Tennessee fired an opening-round 290 and was in 10th place in the 12-team field after one round; however, the second round was a totally different story as the Blue Raiders turned in their best score in a single round since 2004 to vault up the leader board.

The Blue Raiders tamed Canebrake in the second round with four players, led by junior Nick Bailes, shooting below par on its way to a 9-under 275 to leap into third, two shots off the lead. The 275 was the best team round since the Blue Raiders fired a 274 in the first round of the LSU Spring Invitational, April 4, 2004.

"We had an amazing 15-shot turnaround from the first round to the second and I think the biggest difference is that we were aggressive in the second round," Middle Tennessee coach Johnny Moore said. "We came out very tentative in the first round but in the second round it was like we knew we were trailing and just cut loose. It really was a remarkable comeback and now we were in position to win the tournament."

Middle Tennessee enters Wednesday's final round in position to win its first tournament in five fall outings, as well as its third Top 5 finish this fall. The Blue Raiders trail Rhode Island and Austin Peay by two strokes heading into the final round.

Bailes was one of several outstanding performers Monday. The junior from Cleveland, Tenn., is second overall with a 4-under 138 and is just two strokes off the lead of Rhode Island's Ben Spitz. Bailes is enjoying his best tournament this fall heading into the final round. He leads the field with 10 birdies and in par-5 scoring with a 5-under.

"What a difference it makes to have Nick Bailes playing like he played today," Moore said. "He's one of the top golfers in the Sun Belt and he certainly played like a leader today. He had his game going and he helped put our team in a favorable position."

Bailes was extremely consistent with a 2-under 69 in the first and second rounds. He was one of several Blue Raiders to post promising scores. Chas Narramore continued his strong play of late by shooting par (71) in the first round and he came back with a 3-under 68 in the second round to finish with a 139, tied for fourth overall. Narramore is second among the field in par-4 scoring with a 3-under.

Rick Cochran is tied for 21st heading into the final round with a 2-over 144, while Bart Barnes is tied for 33rd with a 146. Craig Smith shot a 147 in the opening day of tournament action.

Sam Hall Invitational
Team results (thru 2 rounds)
Hattiesburg, Miss.

1 Austin Peay 287 276 563 -5
Rhode Island 281 282 563 -5
3 Middle Tennessee 290 275 565 -3
4 UNC Greensboro 286 281 567 -1
5 South Florida 280 291 571 +3
Louisiana Tech Univ. 286 285 571 +3
7 New Orleans 285 291 576 +8
8 Jacksonville St. 291 289 580 +12
9 Louisiana-Monroe 287 294 581 +13
Troy University 287 294 581 +13
11 Arkansas State 296 291 587 +19
12 Southern Mississippi 295 302 597 +29

Middle Tennessee 290 275 565
T 2 Nick Bailes 69 69 138
T 4 Chas Narramore 71 68 139
T 21 Rick Cochran 75 69 144
T 33 Bart Barnes 77 69 146
T 44 Craig Smith 75 72 147

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