Gamecocks Vault Up Leaderboard at NCAA Championship
May 23, 2012
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- After struggling on the opening day of the 2012 NCAA Women's Golf Championship, South Carolina made the biggest turnaround on day two by shooting the lowest round of the tournament as it turned in a 7-under 281 on Wednesday to move into contention at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
The Gamecocks, who were at 14-over par and tied for 18th heading into the round, climbed the leaderboard to finish the day in a tie for fifth place with a two-round total of 583 (+7). The round of 281 is the lowest ever by a Carolina team in a NCAA Championship by 12 strokes and is the second best in program history. The Gamecocks are 12 strokes back of tournament leader Alabama (571), while top-ranked UCLA, North Carolina and Virginia are tied for second with a score of 582 (+6) and Arizona State is tied with South Carolina at 583.
"There wasn't really a difference (from the first round to the second round)," said South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris, whose team is now in the mix for the program's first national title. "We went out with the same game plan that we do every day. We just got off to a good start and had some momentum and some putts went in. Once they start getting hot, they tend to keep it going, and it was fun to watch."
Carolina took advantage of its early morning tee time to get off to a fast start with the greens being more receptive, as four Gamecocks made the turn at even par or better. At the end of the afternoon, the Gamecocks put together their most complete round of the season with senior Katie Burnett (67), sophomore Suzie Lee (70) and junior Meredith Swanson (71) finishing under par. Junior Amanda Strang carded a 1-over 71, while freshman Justine Dreher turned in a 5-over 77.
Burnett, whose round is the lowest ever by a Gamecock in the NCAA Championship and is tied for the third best round in school history, soared 31 spots up the leaderboard to head into the clubhouse in a tie for third with a total of 141 (-3). Burnett lowered her own record of 69 from the 2010 NCAA Championship. She is just three strokes back Alabama's Brooke Pancake, who leads the tournament with a score of 138 (-6).
"I hit a lot of greens, hit my driver really well and putted better than I did (Tuesday). I made some of the putts that I didn't make," Burnett said. "The greens are firm and I just figured out where to land it to get it closer to the hole today."
Burnett played a flawless front nine as she opened the morning with four straight pars before sinking her first of six birdies on the day on the par-5 14th. She tallied two more birdies and two more pars to make the turn at 3-under. She fell back to 2-under after her only blemish of the round on the par-4 fifth, where she three-putted for bogey. However, she caught fire down the stretch, making birdies on three of her final five holes to conclude the lowest round of the day.
Lee bounced back nicely from an opening-round 79 with a 2-under 70, which is the second lowest round of her career. She is in a tie for 53rd with a score of 149 (+5).
"She is like that. She's a little up and down, and (her rounds) are either low or a little bit high," Harris said. "But that's a great thing about Suzie. She can really put some low numbers up there and is a very talented player. I'm just very proud of the way they rebounded and put us right back in the mix of things."
After dropping to 1-over through five holes, Lee played her best golf of the tournament the rest of the way as she made just one bogey, 12 pars and four birdies, including one on the par-5 ninth, to close out her round. As a team, the Gamecocks made three birdies and two pars on the closing hole.
Swanson carried over the momentum from a strong finish to her opening round as she produced three birdies, two bogeys and 13 pars on Wednesday to move into a tie for 32nd with a score of 147 (+3). After making the turn at even par, she birdied the par-4 1st to get to 1-under and then wrapped up her round with eight straight pars.
Strang, who is in a tie for 42nd with a score of 148 (+4), made nine straight pars to open her round. She then struggled on the back side with bogeys on the second, third and sixth holes to drop to 3-over. However, the Jonstorp, Sweden, native kept her poise and drained birdie putts on the seventh and ninth holes to fight back to 1-over heading into the clubhouse.
Dreher is tied for 89th with a score of 154 (+10). The freshman from Valbonne, France had an up and down front nine on her way to a 5-over 41, but her final nine holes proved to be a different story, as she played even par down the stretch.
The Gamecocks are scheduled to tee off in the third round on Thursday at 12 p.m. CT and will be paired with Virginia and Arizona State. Live scoring is available at NCAA.com. There will also be a live video stream of the ninth and 18th holes available at NCAA.com.