May 19, 2010Team Standings | Round 2 Individual Standings | Indiv. By Team | Round 2 Stats
*Round 2 play was stopped at 7:27 p.m. ET due to inclement weather — finished Thursday morning.
By Neil Amato
Special to NCAA.com
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Southern California coach Andrea Gaston doesn’t think her women’s golf team feels pressure playing with the lead in the NCAA Championships.
She’s not hitting a single drive or trying to make any par-saving putts, but she has reason to feel confident. USC’s other two NCAA championships, in 2003 and 2008, were wire-to-wire triumphs.
The 2010 Trojans maintained their first-round lead Wednesday with a round of even-par 288. They are the only team in red numbers through 36 holes at the Country Club of Landfall’s Pete Dye Course.
The Trojans (570) lead Alabama by seven shots and Purdue by eight.
Gaston’s team is playing well, and while it’s far too early to declare a champion, her team is ready to take on any challengers.
“If you’re coming from the front, I think our players enjoy that,” Gaston said. “It’s a great camaraderie. It’s like, ‘Bring it on.’
Let’s try to be smart and try to make some birdies and get smarter each day with how the course is playing.”
The course, in the opinion of most, was much more difficult the second day, despite rain making it easier to shoot for the pin. The wind was stronger and unpredictable. Holes that were easy birdie targets on Tuesday were bogeys waiting to happen on Wednesday, when lightning twice delayed the round before heavy rain pushed its completion to Thursday morning.
Play will resume at 7:30 a.m., with 27 golfers completing the second round.
USC emerged unscathed, finishing its morning round before the weather delays and keeping its perch while others fell back. Pac-10 rivals UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona are not out of it, but they barely made up ground. UCLA cut its deficit from 10 strokes to nine. ASU had trailed by six and now is 11 back. Arizona sliced its margin from 14 to 12.
Alabama at one point early in the round overtook USC, making up its six-shot first-round deficit, but the Crimson Tide couldn’t keep pace.
“USC is really good,” Alabama coach Mic Potter said. “I don’t think you want to be seven shots behind them, because they’re very capable of going out there and shooting low twice. But we had it going today and we caught ‘em, so there’s no reason why, if we stick to our game plan, we couldn’t do it again.”
Jennifer Song is one reason it might be tough to catch the Trojans.
She overcame a double bogey and subpar putting to shoot 71. She is one shot behind Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson for the individual lead.
Gaston said that with the tougher conditions, sometimes taking a bogey wasn’t so bad.
“On the par-5s, we still need to play a little bit smarter,” Gaston said. “With a lot of front-hole locations today, if you didn’t lay far enough back, you couldn’t put the spin on the ball, and I think we might have had a few more birdie opportunities. There were a couple mistakes with a couple of bogeys. … Bogey isn’t such a bad score; it’s just avoiding the doubles.”
Southern Cal steered clear of the trouble that other competitors seemed to find easily. The “other” column on the statistics page – signifying triple bogey or worse – had far more tallies Wednesday, with 22 as compared with six Tuesday. The par-3 second hole alone had eight triple bogeys or worse after having just one Tuesday.
That’s why Gaston stressed golf IQ, thinking about where to take chances and where to play it safe. It’s a strategy that worked well in 2003 and 2008, two very good years for USC.
“It’s certainly exciting to be in this position,” Gaston said. “You know, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to try to win a championship.”