BATON ROUGE – South Carolina posted numbers not seen in a women’s collegiate event since the renovation of the University Club in 2010, as an 11-under round of 277 gave them a large lead and a strong hold of one of the advancing positions that will come after Saturday’s final round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
The LSU Lady Tigers were unable to get anything going on Friday and find themselves in 11th place, but Mandeville senior Elise Bradley with one more solid round is still definitely in position to possibly earn a spot for the national championship event.
The top six teams after Saturday’s final round along with three individuals not on the six advancing teams will have the opportunity to play in the national championship at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon, later this month.
South Carolina leads the field at 9-under par 567 (290-277), eight shots clear of Washington at 1-under 575 (286-289) with Florida third at 4-over 580 (293-287). Duke is fourth at 9-over 585 (298-287) with Oregon and BYU tied for fifth at 12-over 588 on the qualifying number.
Those chasing that number will be Arizona State six shots back at 18-over and Houston another shot back at 19-over.
South Carolina’s 11-under 277, is the second lowest in the history of the University Club (since 2000) and the best in the 2010 post-renovation time frame topping the 286 shot Thursday by Washington. Only the 16-under par round by Duke in the 2007 NCAA regional over the original U-Club layout is better. Carolina’s 36-hole total of 567 is 20 shots lower than the previous low 36-hole total since renovation.
“It was fun. It was fun to watch them just come out and make some birdies said South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson. “This golf course isn’t always easy but I think we took advantage of some par 5s and the girls just hung in there.” On tomorrow’s final round Anderson said, “We’re going to do the same thing we’ve been doing. Just go out there and be patient, be confident and be committed. Just do what we’ve been doing. We’re not going to change up anything we’ve been doing now.”
For Bradley of LSU, the two days of play looked very much like the play of her junior season when she was one of the most improved golfers in the country with a ranking in the top 50. After a good even par round on Thursday, she played the final 10 holes in 3-under par to get to even again and put herself in a strong position where one more round could be an advancing round.
Bradley will enter the final day tied for eighth with Linnea Strom of Arizona State (71-73) and Sarah Schmelzel of South Carolina (75-69), presently the top player not on a top six team along with Strom.
Bradley hit the ninth hole at 3-over for her round, but turned things around quickly.
“At that point, I knew I needed to fight for it then,” she said after the round. “The birdie on nine gave me a lot of momentum. Obviously, I had a birdie on 11 (516-yard, par 5) and I think that really gave me good momentum. I made about an 18-foot putt for eagle on 14 (448-yard, par 5) and that got me pumped up. That was exciting.
“I don’t have anything to lose,” Bradley said of her final competitive round at the U-Club. “I’m not going to play too conservatively. I just have nothing to lose out here.”
“I’m really happy for her,” said LSU Coach Karen Bahnsen. “I told I thought some really good things were going to happen for her. Her attitude has been fantastic. She kept plugging along and gave herself some opportunities.”
Leading the individual competition is South Carolina junior Katelyn Dambaugh who had a post-renovation women’s collegiate U-Club course record of 6-under par 66 to stand at 8-under 136, eight shots better than any 36-hole women’s total since 2010. Dambaugh is four shots up on Charlotte Thomas of Washington, who had a 5-under 67 and is at 4-under 140 (73-67).
As a team, the Lady Tigers find themselves 21 shots out of the qualifying number after a 22-over par 310 to stand at 33-over par 310 and in 11th place. The Lady Tigers also counted a 78 from senior Nadine Dreher, a 79 from freshman Kathleen Gallagher and an 81 from sophomore Sydney Cavin.
“They’ve all been working hard,” said Bahnsen of her team which has played the majority of the season without two players including All-America Caroline Nistrup. “(Friday) as a team it was one of those days when we just didn’t have it. They tried their guts out. It was one of those days and unfortunately we just didn’t play well. We didn’t make putts and hit some bad shots at the wrong time and that’s golf.
“I can tell you one thing,” Bahnsen said after meeting with her team after the round. “This team is not going to hold its head down. They are going to go out (Saturday) and play with a lot of pride and keep fighting because that’s what we do.”
The last two regionals hosted at the University Club it was Coach Dan Brooks and Duke winning the title and going on to win the NCAA Championship. Friday, Duke moved from a tie for seventh to fourth, three-shots inside the number.
“We had a solid round,” said Brooks, whose Blue Devils won the LSU Tiger Golf Classic in March. “We’re playing a really good course. I’m glad we got to come here because you want Regionals to be on a really solid golf course so you can separate a little bit. Right now, I’m happy about the fact that we were in the position we were in (Thursday, T7) and we had to stay patient and keep believing to get where we are now.
“We have to do that again, but I think it’s always a good experience. It’s something I can remind the team that when they were a little bit back they just stayed patient. The fact that it worked out makes it a great thing.”
In this tournament where finishing sixth is an important as first for the teams involved in this and the three other regionals that will conclude on Saturday, tee times begin off 1 and 10 at 7:30 a.m. Arizona State and Houston will play in the first wave ahead of Duke, Oregon and Brigham Young and could have people scoreboard watching if they get hot in the early holes.
The final wave with South Carolina, Washington and Florida begins at 9:09 a.m. CT and Harvard, LSU and Augusta will lead the teams off the 10th tee at 7:30 a.m. Admission is free. Bradley tees at 8:06 a.m.
Follow updates on Twitter @LSUwomensgolf and the hashtag #NCAAGolf. Also follow updates on LSU women’s golf at www.Facebook.com/LSUwomensgolf. Live scoring of the final round can be found at www.golfstatresults.com
NCAA Baton Rouge Regional
The University Club
Second Round Team Results (Par 288-576)
1 South Carolina 290-277 – 567 -9
2 Washington 286-289 – 575 -1
3 Florida 293-287 – 580 +4
4 Duke 298-287 – 585 +9
T5 Oregon 292-296; BYU 298-290 – 588 +12
7 Arizona State 296-298 – 594 +18
8 Houston 295-300 – 595 +19
9 East Carolina 301-301 – 602 +26
10 Harvard 308-295 – 603 +27
11 LSU 299-310 – 609 +33
12 Augusta 311-301 – 612 +36
13 NC State 307-307 – 614 +38
14 Denver 315-304 – 619 +43
15 Wichita State 312-308 – 620 +44
T16 New Mexico 313-309; North Florida 322-300 – 622 +46
18. Fairleigh Dickinson 322-313 – 635 +59
Individual Top 10 (Par 72-144)
1 Katelyn Dambaugh, South Carolina 70-66 – 136 -8
2 Charlotte Thomas, Washington 73-67 – 140 -4
T3 Sandy Choi, Duke, 73-69; Lea Garner, BYU, 73-69; Julianne Alvarez, Washington, 70-72 – 142 -2
T6 Leona Maguire, Duke, 73-70; Ying Luo, Washington, 69-74 – 143 -1
T8 Elise Bradley, LSU, 72-72; Linnea Strom, Ariz. St., 71-73; Sarah Schmezel, S. Carolina, 75-69 – 144 E