DESTIN, Fla. – Guilford College's Noah Ratner climbed 30 spots into ninth place after 54 holes of the NCAA Division III Golf Championships at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Thursday. The senior shot a one-under-par 70, the second-lowest score of the day on the par-71, 6,854-yard Raven Course.
Ratner, who won a five-man playoff Wednesday' to reach the tourney's last two rounds, made four birdies Thursday to move within nine strokes of leader Brad Shigezawa of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps-Colleges. Shigezawa, who started the day in fifth place, fired a two-under 69 and opened a four-stroke lead over the rest of the field at 211. Second-round leader Cameron Button of Southwestern University struggled to a 78 Thursday and slipped into a second-place tie with the University of Texas-Tyler's Buddy Hallman at 215.
Transylvania University's Clay Hinton and Ben Fister share fourth place at 217, which helped the Pioneers take a two-stroke lead over Texas-Tyler on the team leader board. The schools shared the lead after 36 holes, but Transylvania shot a round-best 297 compared to the Patriots' 299 Thursday. Golfers from the two schools will be joined by a member of third-place Methodist University for Friday's final round. The Monarchs shot 302 Thursday and sit 11 strokes off the lead at 887.
Ratner, a two-time PING All-American and the defending NCAA Division III Player of the Year, had just two birdies in his first 35 holes at this year's championships. He birdied the final hole of Wednesday's second round, which secured a spot in a five-man playoff. The five students played for the one remaining slot allotted for low-scoring individuals from teams that did not make the 15-school cut after 36 holes. Guilford shot 307-305-612, which ranked 17th among 41 teams and missed the cut by six strokes.
Friday's fourth and final round will be contested on Sandestin's Raven Course. The Golf Coaches' Association of America will announce its All-America teams at the event's conclusion as most honorees are comprised of the top finishers at the NCAA Championships. Ratner is bidding to become Guilford's fourth three-time All-American in school history.