Lepp fires 63, wins NCAAs in playoff


James Lepp, a University of Washington junior, rebounded from a disappointing 76 on Friday to shoot a course-record-tying, 7-under-par 63, then capped his day by defeating Michael Putnam, a recent Pepperdine graduate, on the third hole of sudden death in the NCAA Division I men's golf championships at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills yesterday.

Lepp wound up with a 72-hole total of 276, and 45 minutes later Putnam matched it when the leader of the middle two rounds closed out a 1-under 69.

Roberto Castro of Georgia Tech finished third at 71-279, and Major Manning of Augusta (Ga.) State, in contention early, slipped to 73-281.

In the playoff - using holes 18, 9 and 18 - both Lepp and Putnam parred the first two holes. On the third, both were on the green on the 460-yard hole in two. Lepp, who was 45 feet away, putted to within 2 1/2 feet. Putnam, practically standing in his footprints from the first playoff hole, hit his putt eight feet past.

Where Putnam had made it from just in front of that spot earlier, this time his ball slid below the cup.

Georgia easily won the team championship, ending with a final-round 280 and a 72-hole total of 1,135. Georgia Tech finished 282-1,146 for second place. Washington produced its highest finish, third, with 1,153, one stroke ahead of Brigham Young.

All five Bulldogs players shot 70 yesterday (only four rounds count toward the total), an unprecedented occurrence.

As for Lepp, "I felt good going off," he said. "I hit good shots on the range and that gave me confidence. A lot of factors contributed to my third-round struggle."

Starting on No. 10 yesterday, he birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 18, turned and birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 3, bogeyed the sixth hole, but then birdied Nos. 7 and 8. His only bogey came at the 17th, where he hit a 9-iron out of the rough and could not convert.

Ryan Moore of Nevada-Las Vegas, the most decorated college player over the past year, made a late run at the title he won a year ago. Sarting at 6-over par, he recorded two early birdies, got two more later and totaled 66-282, tying for fifth.

Team leaders: Georgia 280-1,135; Georgia Tech 282-1,146; Washington, 276-1,153; BYU 275, 1,154; New Mexico 278-1,158; Southern Cal 284-1,159; Kentucky 284-1,161; UNLV 286-1,162; Duke 285-1,162; Augusta State 287-1,164; Arizona State 293-1,170; Tennessee 290-1,170; Georgia State 294-1,173; Georgia Southern 290-1,173; Oklahoma State 296-1,178.

Individual leaders: James Lepp, Washington, 63-276; Michael Putnam, Pepperdine, 69-276 (Lepp won playoff, third extra hole); Roberto Castro, GT, 71-279; Major Manning, Augusta State, 73-281; Rob Grube, Stanford, 68-282; Ryan Moorek, UNLV, 66-282; Oscar Alvarez, BYU, 70-283; John Holmes, Kentucky, 72-283; Ross McGowan, Tennessee, 70-283; Aron Preice, Ga. Southern, 72-283; Brendon Todd, Ga., 70-283; Taylor Wood, USC, 71-283.

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