May 17, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (SMU) - Mario Clemens finished Friday in a three-way tie for first place after carding his second two-under 70 in as many days at the NCAA Regionals in Fayetteville, Ark. SMU sits in sixth place and gained ground on the top-five, only four shots out of a qualifying spot for the NCAA Championships.
Clemens suffered only one bogey against three birdies for his round. He bogeyed his second hole of the day, but immediately answered with a birdie on his third to even-up his round. Clemens then birdied his 10th and 13th holes to finish at two-under. The senior is currently tied for an individual berth to the NCAA Championships if SMU were not to qualify as a team.
"Mario is carrying us," Head Coach Josh Gregory said. "He is playing very solid, boring golf. He has really improved this spring, and he loves the challenge of playing hard courses. He has a great chance to win and help us accomplish our goal."
For the second-straight day SMU struggled early, going 10-over through six holes. The Mustangs rebounded behind two-under back-nines from Clemens and Austin Smotherman, as well as three birdies from Harry Higgs.
"The guys fought back into contention today," Gregory said. "I am proud of them for that. Tomorrow will be a lot of fun. It's what you play for; it's why you play the game. If we play like we are capable, we will get it done. We will hope to get off to a better start, as that will be key for us."
Arkansas shot five-under as a team on Friday and have a one-shot lead heading into the decisive final round. Illinois is second, followed by Texas, Oklahoma State and Kent State. The Mustangs are tied with fellow Conference USA member Tulsa for sixth, and each team will be chasing Kent State for the last spot into the NCAA Championships. The top-five teams and top individual not on a qualifying team will advance.
SMU will start play tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. CT on hole 10. The Mustangs will be grouped with players from UNC-Wilmington and Colorado. Live scoring for the final round is available here.