TUSCALOOSA Powered by a pair of 66’s from Joseph Sykora and Michael Thompson, the University of Alabama golf team jumped into first place going into the final round of the TOPY Cup.
The tournament, held at Tanagura Den-Sha Country Club in Tanagura Town, Japan, has been held annually since 1983. This year’s field pits four top-ranked NCAA teams, Alabama, Stanford, Duke and Clemson, against six Japanese collegiate powers. Touted as a “Birthplace of Champions,” past tournament participants as collegians include PGA stars like Phil Mickelson, who won it as an Arizona State golfer, David Duval (Georgia Tech), and Justin Leonard (Texas). Stanford is the NCAA’s 2007 national champion and is ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches’ poll. Right behind the Cardinal ranked at No. 2 in the preseason is the Crimson Tide. This tournament is Alabama’s season’s opener.
In second round play, Sykora went from a five-way tie at first after the opening round to a three-shot lead when he fired a 66. He opened the tournament at 67 and is 11-under par going into the final round. He’s got a three-shot lead over two golfers, including his own teammate, Thompson, who also shot 66 in the second round. Thompson and Tohoku Fukushi University’s Shintaro Kobayashi. Thompson shot 70-66/136 and is 8-under par going into the final round.
Alabama’s Mark Harrell is 1-under and T-19th. He shot 74-69/143. Tied at 31st at 4-over is Stewart Whitt who shot 73-75/148, and T-48th is Alabama’s Gator Todd who shot 80-72/152.
Alabama shot 15-under as a team in the second round and has a one stroke lead against Stanford going into the final 18 holes. Only three strokes separate the top three teams on the leaderboard. Alabama leads at 19-under par (284-273/557), followed by Stanford 9558), Tohoku Fukushi University (559), Duke (568), Nihon University (570), Clemson and Chuo Gakuin University (582), Naguta University of Commerce (593), Senshu University (594) and Kyushu Tokai University (596).