HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University stormed to a two-stroke lead through 36 holes at the 42nd Annual Marshall Invitational Monday at the Guyan Golf and Country Club.
Three Rams, junior Marc Dobias (Lausanne, Switzerland), senior Chase Sargent (Orlando, Fla.) (pictured, right) and junior Matt Smith (Lancaster, Pa.) are tied for seventh place at 5-under par. VCU totaled 555 strokes (277-278) in the first two rounds and sits 13-under par. The Rams lead Northwestern (-11), followed by Eastern Kentucky, Ohio State and Richmond (-8).
The Black and Gold fired 37 birdies on Monday, second most in the field. The Rams' short game has been largely responsible for their success. The Rams averaged 2.97 strokes on par 3s and are a tournament-best 1-under on those holes.
When final-round play opens Tuesday morning at the par 71, 6,573-yard course, VCU will be seeking its first tournament victory since the 2009 CAA Championships.
Dobias, a transfer from Midland Community College, carded 68 and 69 in the first and second rounds, respectively. Dobias birdied nine holes on Monday, seventh-most in the 87-player field.
Smith also shot 68 in the first and 69 in the second, giving him one more sub-70 round than the junior had all of last year. Smith was 4-under on par 4s Monday.
Sargent has traditionally boasted the longest game among this VCU group and proved it again Monday, shooting 4-under on par 5 holes on the way to rounds of 71 and a career-low 66.
The play of Dobias, Smith and Sargent offset a tough second round for sophomore Matt Ball Jr. (Richmond, Va.), an All-Colonial Athletic Association honoree last year. After a first-round 70, Ball slipped to 79 in the second. Also for VCU, sophomore Rocky Khara (Sebring, Fla.) currently sits 64th at 6-over (74-74=148).
Stay tuned to VCUAthletics.com for more updates.