By Steven Bartolotta, April 26, 2011, 9:26 p.m.
The rain never materialized and neither did the lead that the North Texas men's golf team was looking for in the second round. The day started with heavy showers that pushed the tee times back about 90 minutes and conditions for the first hour were perfect.
Little or no wind and slow pillow top soft greens just waiting for aggressive shots to take advantage of them. North Texas couldn't do it early in the round and paid for it in the missed opportunity to take the lead.
No hole better illustrates that than the par-5 No. 7. An uphill tee shot to a wide open fairway that curves to the left. A good tee shot, and you're hitting a 7-iron onto the green for an eagle putt. North Texas went 3-under par the first round. Today they went 2-over par and with no birdies.
It was that kind of day. Frustrating to say the least. But then how do you explain North Texas shooting 2-over par, only four shots off the lead, and Carlos Ortiz leading the tournament you ask?
Resiliency. That's what this team has been all year and it was again late in the second round. Ortiz was masterful once again around the course. He's matured into a deadly player who can put the ball wherever he wants, whenever he wants.
Only two bogeys in 36 holes and he's on the verge of being the first North Texas player to win the individual crown since 2003.
He wants more, he wants the team title too, but the team almost lost the chance at that early on.
Curtis Donahoe, Josh Jones, Ty Spinella, and even Rodolfo Cazaubon were scuffling today, no doubt about it.
Donahoe had four bogeys on the front nine; Spinella was hitting provisional balls on every tee shot, enough that I thought he might run out of balls.
Cazaubon found the drink on 12 and 13, and was +3, while Jones went into the water at 9 and was leaking oil from then on.
This round had disaster written all over it. They were +7 nearing the end of the round, and then came the bounce back. Spinella found his shot, maybe in the weeds or tall grass he spent so might time in on the front nine, but he strung together some birdies.
Donahoe battled through a putter that let him down all day to post back-nine birdies. Cazaubon had two birdies on the last three holes. And then there was Ortiz with the eagle on 17.
After a perfect tee shot, Ortiz was in the middle of the par-5 fairway with a decision. Face the daunting task of going over water for a hole-location tucked waaaaaaay in the back, or play it safe and lay-up like his playing partners. It was a 235-yard shot. Think you could do that?
He went for it and put his second shot 10-feet from the stick. Big-time shot that gave him the lead heading into tomorrow, and North Texas badly needed momentum. They all battled back from missed chances early.
The Mean Green missed a lot of opportunities today, they know it, but they gave themselves a chance to win the tournament.
That's an opportunity they don't plan on missing again.