NINETY SIX, S.C. - Charleston Southern posted a five-under par second round to take sole possession of second place Saturday at the Big South Conference Championship at The Patriot at Grand Harbor. Paced by senior Jacques Wilson, who is one stroke off the lead, the Bucs were in first late in the day before struggling to fall four back of Liberty.
CSU went as low as 11-under in round two before a few big numbers proved costly coming in. Wilson, who carded a career-best five-under 67 in Friday's opeing round, rolled home six birdies Saturday en route to a 70. High Point's Brendan MacDougall caught fire for a tournament-record 63 to move past Wilson at -8 overall atop the 45-player field. The Panthers' Alec Weary is three off the pace.
Liberty racked up an impressive -15 total Saturday to move into the driver's seat. In addition to CSU, who is even-par overall, Campbell (+5), Gardner-Webb (+6) and High Point (+7) are all within striking distance.
CSU head coach Jason Payne has been justifiably pleased with his team's play. The Bucs began the week hoping to put their potential on display and have done just that to put the program in position for a third NCAA Regional bid in four years. Sophomore Elliot Gothe (T-9th) continued his stellar play with a 70 on Saturday, while Dylan Patscot (T-20th) notched a one-under 71. Senior Art Griffin (T-14th) fired a 72.
"You can't ask for much more than to get to play in the final group with a conference title on the line," Payne said. "I think the guys have had a good approach and we're a few mistakes away from being on top. We just need to play relaxed and make some putts to hopefully give ourselves a chance late."
Wilson was primed for a second consecutive sub-70 round before bogeying No.'s 17 and 18. He started hot on the front nine, birdieing four out of five holes between No.'s 4 and 8.
"Jacques been really focused and confident," Payne said. "When he's making putts, he's certainly one of the best players in the conference. He's in a good spot and the golf course suits him well so I like his chances."
Gothe, who earned Big South Player of the Week honors two weeks ago at the Wofford Invitational, is peaking at an ideal time. He was near-flawless Saturday, notching 13 pars and three birdies after a bogey at No. 2.
"Elliot is playing really, really well and that's been huge for us," Payne said. "Hopefully, Jacques and Art and Elliot can do what they do and Dylan, like he did today, can come in with a solid round to help us make a push."
CSU will tee of the final round Sunday between 8:50 and 9:30 a.m. The Bucs will play alongside Liberty and Campbell.