PETALUMA, Calif. - With three holes remaining in the NCAA Northwest Super Regional, things were looking good for Pack junior David Duarte.
The Pack's top golfer at the NCAA Northwest Super Regional had an outside shot as claiming the one at-large individual bid to the NCAA Championships in Houston next week, needing to be the top individual not attached to one of the top two teams to earn a berth to nationals.
With three holes remaining and his day over, Duarte found himself at fifth place overall, trailing two golfers from UC-Colorado Springs, who had clinched a team-berth as they cruised to the team regional championship, and one from Western New Mexico, Scott Crichton, who had been leading the field all tournament long. Duarte's chanced laid on Nebraska-Kearney, an RMAC foe who had surprised at the regional, holding tightly to the second place spot as a team with three holes remaining, albeit only two strokes ahead of a streaking Western New Mexico team.
Essentially, if Kearney laid an egg and fell to third place, Crichton would then be attached to one of the team's qualifying for nationals, leaving the title of top individual to Duarte.
And as expected, Kearney laid an egg on those final three holes. Kearney golfers registered three bogeys over the final three holes, enough to send Western New Mexico to the top spot for good.
But a surprising back nine by the Lopers' number-five entrant, Max Hadenfeldt, surged him up the leaderboard and past Duarte, who shot +2 Wednesday, claiming the at large bid and sending Duarte and the rest of the ThunderWolves home.
As a team, the ThunderWolves struggled Wednesday, putting up a +26 314, the second-worst third round score among the eight teams competing. After two rounds, the Pack was in fifth place, with an outside chance at playing their way toward the second place crown to qualify as a team.