BRYAN, Texas – On a day that saw several teams contend for the lead – a couple even took it for a hole or two – the second round of the NCAA Women’s Division I Golf Championship ended Thursday with a familiar name up top – first-round leader UCLA.
The Bruins went out in the morning wave and fought their way through a blustery, cloudy course and posted a round of 7-over-par. Their 8-over-par total for the championship ended up being enough to enter Saturday’s third round with a three-shot lead on defending champion Purdue.
Tiffany Lua and Stephanie Kono each posted 1-under-par 71s to lead the Bruins. Kono posted two birdies and a bogey to go with 15 pars. Lua’s round was a little bit more adventurous. She strung three birdies together between Nos. 2 and 4, but added two bogeys in the final four holes.
It looked as though Purdue would at least tie for the second-round lead and possibly overtake it, but the Boilermakers went 3-over-par in the final two holes to end the day three shots back.
Purdue head coach Devon Brouse was careful not to hit the panic button for his defending national champions.
“The position we put ourselves in, you can’t really feel bad,” he said. “We left a couple of shots out there, but every team out her can probably say the same thing.
“We’re certainly capable of doing what we need to do, but we’re probably going to need to put five really good scores together over the next couple days. There are just too many good teams.”
LSU is third, four shots back. Freshman Austin Ernst put together the low round of the tournament for the Lady Tigers, a stunning 6-under-par 66, four shots clear of anyone in the early wave on Thursday and three shots better than anyone in the tournament had shot before her.
BRYAN, Texas – For LSU freshman Austin Ernst, golf truly is a family affair. Her father Mark is a PGA professional at Cross Creek Plantation in South Carolina. Her brother Drew is a golfer for Coastal Carolina currently playing in the NCAA Men’s Division I Regional.
And Austin? She found herself on top of the individual leaderboard at the Division I Women’s Championship at Traditions Club after shooting a 6-under-par 66.
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“I made a lot of putts. A lot of putts,” Ernst said.
LSU head coach Karen Bahnsen likes her team’s chances heading into the second half of the tournament.
“It’s just taking things one day at a time,” she said. “This course is about managing your brain and I think we do a good job of that. It’s about peaking at the right time and we’re doing that.”
The hometown fans had something to cheer for, as underdog Texas A&M made a charge Thursday to get themselves into the top five. For a brief time late Thursday afternoon, the Aggies, complete with a raucous crowd, many sporting giant cutouts of players like were seen during March Madness, took the lead, but faltered in the closing holes, ending the day in fourth, five shots back.
Sophomore transfer student Susy Grunden led the Aggies with a one-under 71, following up a solid 74 in Wednesday’s first round.
Coach Trelle McCombs said Grunden has come to play at the right time.
“Magoos [Grunden’s nickname],” she said with a smile. “I want to say that in all the qualifiers that we’ve had, her best score was like 78. She shot 74 here yesterday and I think she felt like she conquered it, so she built on it today.
“She’s not a great qualifier, but when it’s time to compete, she gets it done.”
Vanderbilt rounds out the top five on the team board, seven shots in back of the leaders.
Ernst leads the individual race at 6-under par. Purdue’s Numa Gulyanamitta is second, four shots back at 2-under, then UCLA’s Tiffany Lua, No. 1 ranked Marta Silva Zamora and Florida’s Mia Piccio sit at 2-under.