National Golf Invitational: Every single shot counts for leader TCU, but highly motivated Washington State lurks

To motivate his four players competing in the National Golf Invitational this week, TCU head coach Bill Allcorn and assistant coach Cole Buck zeroed in on one detail. Every single shot that each player hits will count. Every birdie, every bogey.

And Allcorn came to like the idea.

“That’s the message we kind of relayed to the guys and they’re all in,” he said. “They’re pulling for each other just like they always do but knowing that every single shot that each person hits is important. I feel like we’re just a really tight group this week, and it’s fun to see that every birdie we make and every bogey we make is really affecting our overall score.”

On Saturday, TCU players kept the bogeys to a minimum and lit up their scorecards in red at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Maricopa, Arizona. The Horned Frogs will take a one-shot lead on Washington State into the final round. TCU is 20 under for 36 holes with two players, Jack Beauchamp and Andrew Petruzelli, in the top 5 individually.

ScoresNational Golf Invitational

TCU is without its leading scorer Gustav Frimodt at the NGI after the senior competed in an NCAA Regional in Austin, Texas, last week. Allcorn traveled with Frimodt to the tournament and Buck flew the team to Arizona to prepare for the NGI. Allcorn arrived Friday evening, and saw the course for the first time on Saturday.

“I just wanted to be around the guys and support them and just watch a lot of golf,” he said. “It’s been two weeks or so since I’ve been around this group just because of finals and being at regionals so it was good just to be around them again and watch them compete.”

Allcorn praised his men for capitalizing on the longer holes as well as on the par 4s, especially those where TCU players had wedges in their hands. After his first day on site, he likes the look of the place, particularly the greens.

“Greens are really, really good – perfect make speed, so to speak,” he said. “If you do hit one pretty hard, it will get away from you but for the most part, the greens feel really good to make some putts on.”

A postseason opportunity for TCU, which finished the regular season ranked No. 102, is particularly important given the make-up of Allcorn’s team. With three of four players being underclassmen, the NGI became an opportunity for a group of somewhat inexperienced players to get one more tournament under their belt before scattering for the summer.

Washington State, on the other hand, has a little bit different story. The Cougars are making their second consecutive NGI start, but this year four of the players head coach Dustin White traveled to the tournament are graduating.

There’s a little extra motivation attached to Washington State, too, because of the circumstances under which they arrived at the NGI. The Cougars, ranked No. 67 to end the regular season, were the first team out of NCAA regionals, a position that certainly stung an experienced squad. White knows it put a bit of a chip on their collective shoulders.

“They know the opportunity that’s in front of them and I think they obviously want to put an exclamation point on the season and have the seniors go out on a high note,” he said. “We all want that. We want to win but I think at the end of the day they’ve done a really nice job this year of going out and playing golf and sticking to the process and just letting all that stuff kind of take care of itself.”

In the individual race, Valparaiso’s Anthony Delisanti got it to double digits under par on Saturday with a 10-under 62. He’s now 11 under for the tournament, and three ahead of Butler’s Leo Zurovac in second place.

Delisanti, a junior from Sanborn, New York, started on the back nine and eagled both par 5s (Nos. 13 and 16) while adding birdies at Nos. 12 and 14. He made four more birdies on the front nine, which got him within a shot of the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes course record of 61. That number belongs to Steve Saunders, who posted 61 during a round of PGA Tour Q-School.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek