Four of the Monarchs' five players shot par or better Thursday in the quest for the program's 12th national championship.

GREENSBORO — The Methodist University men's golf team turned a three-shot deficit after two rounds of the NCAA Division III championships into a 10-shot lead heading into Friday's final round.

The Monarchs, who began Thursday's action three shots behind Guilford, produced the only sub-par team round of the day at 6-under-par 282 to charge into first. Washington & Lee shot 4-over 292 Thursday and is in second place while Guilford, which was led after two rounds, shot 10-over 298 and trails the Monarchs by 13.

Leading the Methodist assault on the Grandover Resort course was Dan Shepherd, who carded a 69 after firing 72s in the first two rounds. Shepherd, a junior from Wilton, New York, is tied for third in the individual race, four shots behind Brian Peccie of Washington & Lee.

"That's the Dan we had the first few tournaments of the spring that turned our season around," Methodist coach Steve Conley said. "He struggled the last two tournaments at Emory and conference. Golf's a confidence game, and he just needed to get that back. A little bit of dumb luck, a little bit of me and him working together, communicating a little bit ... just a couple of things he felt that he hadn't been feeling and it clicked; like the old Dan was back. it's been awesome."

Terry Sanford High product Jared Chinn rebounded from an 80 to shoot 2-under 70 for the Monarchs, Larkin Gross shot 71, and Aaron Purvience had a round of even-par 72.

Conley said that Chinn wasn't bothered by Wednesday's 80.

"He told me and the guys, 'Hey, I'm hitting it good. I just had a bad hole, I'm not worried. I'm shooting under par' " Thursday, Conley said, "and he did."

Chris Drysdale, who shot 73 for Methodist on Wednesday, was the team's only over-par scorer Thursday with a 78.

"We've got the best No. 5 guy in the country right now," Conley said of Drysdale. "Jared set the tone today, and Chris is wanting to do the same thing in the final round. He just had a loose swing today and a couple of missed putts. Six-over, that's not his game."

The Monarchs are in search of their 12th NCAA title. Conley has been Methodist's head coach since 1989, and the Monarchs won the first of their championships the following year. Methodist's most-recent title came in 2015, also at Grandover.

 

Sports editor Thomas Pope can be reached at tpope@fayobserver.com or 486-3520.