No. 3 USC Surges To Second After NCAA Third Round
May 24, 2012
No. 3 USC, again led by freshman Doris Chen, fought off fast greens and swirling winds to tie for the best third round Thursday (May 24) and surged into second place -- two out of first -- at the 2012 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., hosted by Vanderbilt.
The Trojans, who began the day 14 strokes off the lead, combined for a 6-over 294 Thursday, tied with Michigan State for lowest round of the day and are now 15-over 879 (297-288-294) for the event. The six teams that began the day ahead of USC were all at least 12-over today, providing USC an opportunity to move up the leader board, and one the Trojans did not waste.
Alabama is now in first at 13-over 877 (286-285-306), two ahead of the Trojans. Purdue (293-295-295), South Carolina (302-281-300) and Virginia (288-294-301) are tied for third at 19-over 883. LSU is sixth at 20-over 884 (293-294-301), North Carolina is seventh at 21-over 885 (292-291-304), Arizona State is eighth at 23-over 887 and UCLA (292-290-306) and Oklahoma (294-299-295) are tied for 10th at 24-over 888.
The Trojans, who have won NCAA team titles in 2003 and 2008 and are the only team in the nation with six consecutive top five finishes, used a strong finish on the front 9 (after starting off the 10th tee) to put pressure on the field. The Trojans finished the final four holes (6 through 9) at 3-under.
"It was so tough out there today," USC 16th-year Coach Andrea Gaston said. "The greens were so fast. The balls were rolling as if they were on tabletops. You have to be patient and I think we were.
"Inah Park was very clutch today and Doris played great. All the girls really fought the conditions well. We knew if we could start the backside and get it over with reasonably well, we would have a chance to rally on the front. We played 9 horribly yesterday but had four birdies there today.
"It's now a horse race. There are many teams hanging tough."
Chen moved into seventh place at even 216 (75-69-72) after also leading the Trojans Thursday. She was even on the back 9 and was 1-under before a double bogey on 3. But she finished with two birdies with a bogey in between on her final three holes. She is after her sixth top 10 finish this season and her second win. She is four behind leaders Chirapat Jao-Javanil of Oklahoma and Arizona State's Giulia Molinaro.
Senior Inah Park maintained her steady play and is tied for 17th at 4-over 220 (74-73-73). Park overcame a three-hole stretch (14-16) where she went 4-over to finish the final 10 holes at 3-under for her 1-over round.
Fellow senior Lisa McCloskey is tied for 27th at 6-over 222 (76-72-74) and had three birdies on the day, including one on 8 near the end of the day.
Sophomore Sophia Popov is tied for 40th at 8-over 224 (75-74-75) and saved her best for last, finishing the round with back-to-back birdies. Fellow sophomore Rachel Morris, USC's leader in the first round, is tied for 82nd at 14-over 230 (73-80-77) and also birdied her final hole.
USC will begin its final round in the top pairing with Alabama and Purdue. The teams will begin play off the first tee at 12:56 p.m. and the final trio will start at 1:40 p.m. CT.