May 21, 2009

OWINGS MILLS, Md. ─ Southern California freshman Jennifer Song fired a 1-under par 71 and three players are among the top-20 overall as the Trojans shot a 6-over par 294 and vaulted into the lead after three rounds of play in the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship being played at Caves Valley Golf Course. Southern Cal enters the final round of play with a 54-hole score of 26-over par 890, leading No. 1-ranked Arizona State by one stroke and No. 2-ranked UCLA by two strokes.

The 72-hole tournament, being played at the par-72, 6,443-yard course, wraps up on Friday, May 22. The first group of players from the top three teams will tee off at 1 p.m. from the first hole.

Southern Cal has been steady through 54 holes, with no team score higher than 13-over par 301. No. 1-ranked Arizona State, which entered Thursday's tied for fourth place, shot a tournament-best 3-over par 291 in the third round and stands in second place at 27-over par 891. A third school from the Pacific 10 Conference, UCLA, is only two strokes off the pace, in third place at 29-over par 893.

"Our overall goal was to improve each day and I know we moved up and are now in first," Southern Cal Head Coach Andrea Gaston said. "You just have to go out there and play this golf course. If the opportunity for birdies is out there you have to go get them. We're still going to have to play really great golf tomorrow to win this, we can't just go out and protect this."

Song led the Trojans with a 1-under par in the third round and took advantage of higher scores from some of the players ahead to move into the individual lead in the field of 126 golfers with a score of even-par 216. Junior teammate Belen Mozo and sophomore Lizette Salas are tied for 15th place at 7-over par 223, while junior Caroline Kim is in a tie for 57th place at 16-over par 232.

"I wasn't trying to force myself out there, just play one shot at a time, give it my best and if there is a chance for a birdie I said thank you and if there is a chance for a par I say thank you again," Song said of her round. "We are mentally and physically prepared. We've been preparing for this event for one year and all of my teammates are really ready and pumped up. We've been having a lot of second places and I think this is our chance to win."

Arizona State senior Azahara Munoz is tied for fifth place at 5-over par 221, while sophomore Jaclyn Sweeney is just behind, tying for eighth place at 6-over par 222. Senior Jennifer Osborn is tied for 20th place at 8-over par 224 and freshman Carlota Ciganda is tied for 24th place at 9-over par 225.

UCLA sophomore Maria Jose Uribe, who fired a 6-under par 66 on Wednesday, struggled with a 5-over par 77 and is tied for second place with Purdue senior Maria Hernandez, at 2-over par 218.

UC-Davis sophomore Alice Kim, competing as an individual, is in fourth place at 3-over par 219 after firing a 2-under par 70. Central Florida senior Stephanie Connelly, a native of nearby Pasadena, Md., is tied for fifth place with Munoz and Pepperdine freshman Lisa McCloskey at 5-over par 221.

Team Scores - Par 864
1. Southern California (301-295-294=890, +26); 2. Arizona State (302-298-291=891, +27); 3. UCLA (296-293-304=893, +29); 4. North Carolina (299-301-306=906, +42); 5. Denver (294-304-309=907, +43); 6. Virginia (305-302-301=908, +44); 7. Oklahoma State (303-297-309=909, +45); 8. Duke (308-301-302=911, +47); 9. Pepperdine (312-298-302=912, +48); 10. LSU (302-304-309=915, +51); T11. Alabama (305-302-311=918, +54); T11. Purdue (306-301-311=918, +54); 13. Wake Forest (303-300-318=921, +57); 14. Georgia (316-307-301=924, +60); 15. Michigan State (307-303-315=925, +61); 16. Tennessee (307-313-306=926, +62); 17. Chattanooga (316-307-305=928, +64); 18. Arizona (310-305-314=929, +65); 19. TCU (314-316-301=931, +67); 20. New Mexico (311-314-307=932, +68); 21. Tulane (312-305-317=937, +70); 21. Texas (314-311-313=938, +74); T23. Ohio State (323-311-314=948, +84); T23. UC Irvine (320-316-312=948, +84).

Top 10 Individuals - Par 216
1. Jennifer Song, Southern California (72-73=71=216, even); T2. Maria Hernandez, Purdue (74-72-72=218, +2); T2. Maria Jose Uribe, UCLA (75-66-77=218, +2); 4. Alice Kim, UC-Davis (74-75-70=219, +3); T5. Stephanie Connelly, Central Florida* (72-74-75=219, +3); T5. Lisa McCloskey, Pepperdine (74-69-78=221, +5); T5. Azahara Munoz, Arizona State (78-71-72=221, +5); T8. Jaclyn Sweeney, Arizona State (76-77-69=222, +6); T8. Sydney Crane, North Carolina (75-72-75=222, +6); T8. Pernilla Lindberg, Oklahoma State (74-72-76=222, +6); T8. Amanda Blumenherst, Duke (75-73-74=222, +6); T8. Calle Nielson, Virginia (75-76-71=222, +6); T8. Nanette Hill, Wake Forest (72-71-79=222, +6); T8. Stephanie Sherlock, Denver (70-73-79=222, +6).