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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Derek Bayley of Rathdrum in second, WSU tied for third in Pac-12 men’s golf

PULLMAN – Jon Rahm, Cheng-Tsung Pan and the other future pros playing in the Pac-12 men’s golf championships this week will someday jockey over endorsements, sponsorship deals and, maybe, green jackets.

But right now they’re all chasing Washington State’s Derek Bayley, a freshman from Rathdrum, Idaho.

After two rounds of golf on Monday at Palouse Ridge, Bayley sits one stroke behind Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, the overall individual leader at minus-7. Bayley has been a supplemental player for the Cougars this spring, behind seniors Michael Anderson and Sang Lee.

But with the Cougars struggling during the first round at their home course, the freshman kept them afloat. And when WSU broke through in the second set of 18 holes, Bayley turned in the evening’s best round, shooting a 65 on the par-70 course.

“All spring I feel like I’ve played well but I haven’t played great,” Bayley said. “Especially the second round here, putts fell, I hit it really well and I really feel like I put a round together for the first time in the spring.”

The second round was nirvana for all the Cougars, all but one of whom improved by at least three strokes the second time through the course. WSU sat in a tie for seventh place after the first round and finished the day tied with Stanford for third.

“I think we settled down,” said WSU coach Garrett Clegg. “I think we were anxious, nervous, excited all rolled up into one. We’re at our home course, hoping for this day, planning for this day for a full year and, man, we just made a mess of it to start the day.”

The Cougars are already halfway through the championships, however, and won’t have time to settle down today or Wednesday, when each consists of one round through the 7,257-yard course.

Lee, WSU’s No. 1 golfer, went 4-over in the first round but improved by six strokes his second time through. The No. 2 golfer, Anderson, finished 3-under in the first round but shot even in the second. Because five scores are counted rather than the usual four, the more volatile scores of the players lower on the depth chart can make a huge difference, and that’s where WSU improved the most.

Brian Mogg, for example, would not typically count as the fifth-highest scorer for the Cougars. But his six-stroke improvement in the second round was the difference between a tie for third place and a tie for fifth.

“I saw the first leaderboard, I saw we were eighth or ninth place,” Bayley said. “Even after the first round we were in seventh place. I had a lot of confidence in our guys to come out and really stick it to them this last round.”

Only USC, the overall team leader with 699, showed similar improvement. The Sun Devils led after the initial round, thanks in part to the play of Rahm, the No. 1 amateur in the world. They finished the day in second place, five strokes behind the Trojans, who sit minus-1 as a team. California played well initially, thanks to major contributions from its No. 5 and No. 6 golfers, but tumbled down the stretch.

“The course is in difficult shape right now; it’s really tough to play,” Clegg said. “When you don’t know the shots and don’t know the lines, you really don’t have to be off by much to get penalized out here. So the teams that don’t know it as well hit those shots occasionally and it’s tough to go a 36-hole day without hitting a few of those.”

Play continues today at Palouse Ridge Golf Club with WSU teeing off at 9:06 a.m.