Auburn carries lead into final round
Sanz's 67 leads Tigers charge to top of leaderboard
AUBURN, Ala. -- No. 20 Auburn carded a 2-over 290 Saturday in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, notching the low round in what was a windy day at the Auburn University Club. The Tigers finish the day in first with a 3-under 573, nine strokes ahead of second-place Alabama.
Auburn also finished the day with four players in the top 15 and all five in the top 25. Senior Cydney Clanton carded an even-par 72 in the second round and is tied for second with a 3-under 141. She is just one stroke behind Tennessee's Erica Popson, who holds the individual lead with a 4-under 140.
Conducted by the SEC and Auburn, the SEC Championship is a 54-hole stroke play tournament being played at the Auburn University Club. The tournament features eight teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation. The par-72 course is playing at 6,364 yards for the tournament.
With winds gusting at nearly 20 miles per hour for most of the round, players faced a difficult track at the AU Club. After an average round of 75.37 in the first round, the field came in with a 77.43 average on Saturday.
With the tough conditions, Auburn head coach Kim Evans was happy with how her team handled it.
"They handled the difficult conditions," said Evans. "I think at times you felt the push and pull of the wind, and I think at times they felt like they should be playing better. They stayed in it until the end. It took a mentally-tough game today, and I think we did a great job."
On a day with just three rounds under par, Auburn junior Patricia Sanz went low with a 5-under 67. The mark moved her up 34 places in the standings and puts her in a tie for 12th at 3-over 147 heading into the final round.
"I didn't have a good round yesterday, but today it was just the opposite today - I just kept on being positive and focusing on my game, and it worked," said Sanz. "I'm a wind player; I really like playing in wind. I have low shots, so I really didn't think it was that horrible."
Sanz carded a bogey-free second round, tallying three birdies on the front and two on the back. Her 67 set the Auburn record for low round in an SEC Championship. It is also tied for the eighth-lowest round ever among all teams in an SEC Championship.
Clanton, fresh off her first-round 69, posted an even-par 72 in the second round, securing her tied for second at 3-under 141. She made the turn at 2-under but struggled with three straight bogeys to start the back nine. She recovered to go 1-under for the rest of the round and finish at even-par.
Clanton will go into Sunday's final round just one stroke off the overall individual leader, Popson.
"It is always good to be that close, and sometimes there is pressure being in the lead," said Clanton. "I am not upset at where I am, but I would have loved to play a little better than I did today. I gave myself plenty of opportunities today, but I am happy with what I did."
Behind Clanton is sophomore Carlie Yadloczky, who followed up her first-round 70 with a 74 on Saturday. She is currently tied for fifth at even-par 144. Sanz is next in the lineup while junior Haley Wilson also squeezed into the top 15, finishing in a tie for 14th with a 4-over 148.
Wilson, a native of nearby Ft. Mitchell, Ala., carded a 1-under 71 in the first round, but tallied a 5-over 77 in the second.
Rounding out the Auburn lineup is freshman Marta Sanz in a tie for 23rd. Sanz, the younger sister of Patricia, notched a 6-over 78 in the second round to finish the day with a 7-over 151.
Individually, Popson holds the lead at 4-under 140, followed by Clanton and Arkansas' Emily Tubert in second with 3-under 141s. Alabama's Brooke Pancake is in fourth with a 2-under 142 while teammate Stephanie Meadow, Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora, LSU's Austin Ernst and Auburn's Yadloczky are tied for fifth with even-par 144s.
Alabama's Hannah Collier, Vanderbilt's Anna Leigh Keith and South Carolina's Suzie Lee round out the top 10 in tie for ninth with 2-over 146s.
In the team race, Auburn is in the lead with a 3-under 573, followed by Alabama at 6-over 582 and LSU with an 11-over 587. Tennessee is in fourth with a 17-over 593 with Arkansas at fifth at 18-over 594. Georgia rounds out the top half of the field in sixth with a 25-over 601.
Even with a nine-stroke lead heading into the final round on her team's home course, Evans knows that nothing is safe and her team has a lot of work left to do.
"You always want to lead at any time," said Evans. "The golf course tomorrow won't be windy, it will be set up for ideal conditions, and we have some great teams that can make a run. And we are one of them."