Lamar University junior Kevin Hesbois has played in the General Hackler Championship in each of the past two years, and played a practice round Saturday.
So he's familiar enough with the TPC of Myrtle Beach to know what he's capable of doing on the challenging 6,950-yard layout.
"At the beginning of the week I try to think of what I could shoot if I play good, and I was thinking 70 would be a great score here," Hesbois said.
The Belgium native managed to exceed his expectations just a bit in the opening two rounds Sunday. He matched the single-round record in the 10-year tournament with a 7-under-par 65 in the second round and holds a two-stroke lead over Coastal Carolina sophomore Sebastian Soderberg and Virginia senior Amory Davis at 4-under 140 in the race for medalist.
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Davis was one of three Virginia players in the top-10, helping the Cavaliers to an 11-shot lead at 7-over 583 in the team competition over both host Coastal Carolina and Tennessee entering today's final round.
The single-round tournament record was set by East Tennessee State's Rhys Davies in 2007. "It's always possible since I did it, but I wasn't really thinking about that number," Hesbois said. "I can't believe I shot 65, actually."
Hesbois has four top-five finishes in his three-year collegiate career, including a second and a third. This week marks the first time he will take a lead into a final round.
"I'll try to keep it cool and keep doing what I've been doing," said Hesbois, who rolled in a pair of 15- to 20-foot birdie putts in his final five holes and left a birdie putt an inch short on his final hole.
"I was just trying to keep the rhythm in my swing and keep my composure out there, and I really did a good job of that."
Soderberg, who is coming off a tie for 17th in the John Hayt Invitational at Sawgrass Country Club for his fourth top-20 in six starts this season, shot a pair of 71s. He was never over par or better than 2 under in two rounds that included seven birdies, a double bogey and three bogeys. "I played really solid and didn't make a lot of mistakes and kept it in play," he said.
Davis, of Philadelphia, is the only player among the top three with a previous collegiate victory. He won an event hosted by UNC-Greensboro at Forest Oaks Country Club in the fall of his junior season in 2009.
"I've started to hit the ball a little bit better the past few weeks and I've been rolling it really good," said Davis, who shot rounds of 69 and 73. "So as long as I keep my head in it and stay patient, I'm sure I'll be there at the end."
The Cavaliers won two of their four tournaments in the fall, and have finished second and third in their previous two spring events, finishing behind only Golfweek top-20 programs California, Texas A&M and No. 2 Alabama.
"We've gone into every single tournament feeling we have a chance to win," Davis said. "We've got one of the deeper teams I think in college golf. From one through five we get pretty consistent golf every week."
Virginia lost one player from a squad that tied for 11th in the NCAA Championships last year and is ranked 18th in the nation in Golfweek's Sagarin rankings. They're the third-highest ranked team in the tournament behind No. 8 Auburn and No. 15 Augusta State, the defending national champion.
No Virginia players starting Sunday played at the TPC when Virginia last participated in the Hackler in 2007. They weren't invited the past three years, but seven-year Cavs coach Bowen Sargent e-mailed CCU coach Allen Terrell and requested a spot. "This is a tournament we've wanted to play in for the last three or four years," Sargent said.
The Chanticleers, hoping to return to the NCAA Championships this season for the first time since 2007, haven't started the spring as strong as they'd hoped with finishes of sixth and 10th, so they were happy to get back on their home course Sunday.
"We always feel comfortable on this course and finished second last year and didn't really play that good," Soderberg said. "If we play good out here we should be high up there [on the leaderboard] and contend, so it's good to be here."
Tee times off the first and 10th tees today run from 8-9:40 a.m.