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Denise Maloof | | May 21, 2014

Maloof: Two rounds remain

  Second-ranked UCLA dropped from second place to fourth after two rounds, carding a 13-over-par 293.

TULSA, Okla. -- The wind blew not quite so hard Tuesday, but its diminishment didn’t allow anyone to catch the Sooners.

The first-round leaders remained out front following Wednesday’s second round of the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf championship, shooting a 7-over-par 287 at Tulsa Country Club. The 10th-ranked Sooners are a collective 15-over 575 after two rounds and maintain the three-stroke lead they’d forged the day before.

 Oklahoma led then-second-place UCLA by three strokes after Tuesday’s first round. Current second-place and third-ranked Duke by the same margin after Wednesday’s second round.

“We played pretty solid on the front nine,” Oklahoma head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell  said. “We played pretty good and it was fun overall. I saw a lot of good stuff and I’m really proud of the girls.”

She may be particularly proud of freshman Alexandrea Kaui, who leads the individual title hunt after two rounds. Kaui, who holds a three-stroke margin over Michigan State’s Allyssa Ferrell and Stanford’s Lauren Kim, carded a 2-under par 68 in Tuesday’s fiercer winds. She went 3-under 67 in Wednesday’s slightly better conditions. Give her a 5-under-535 after two rounds.

“I try not to think about it, especially while I’m out there,” Kaui said. “I try to think to myself that I’m still in the hunt and I have to keep pressing, keep playing and I try not to relax and think that I’m going to stay here. I try to always believe that I have two more days to keep this streak. I have to work and keep it.”

Ferrell shot a 1-under-par 69 both days. Kim followed Tuesday’s 67 with a 71 on Wednesday.  The two played together both days, which Kim says makes a difference.

“Definitely,” she said. “It helps to see her making birdies, and it fires me up to go out there and stick it close and give myself chances. It definitely helps playing with players who are playing well. But, by the same token, playing with players who are struggling, you just have to block out what everyone else is doing an focus on your own game. It definitely helps to see putts dropping and the ball going in the hole, but I’m just focused on us and doing well for the team.”

Southern California’s Doris Chen is fourth, after a 2-over-par 72 on Wednesday. She’s 1-under-139 after two rounds.

Chen said she tried attack Wednesday’s round with the same mindset she used on Tuesday.

“The pin placements were harder today than yesterday,” she said. “I had to play smart, but at the same time it looks like you could go for the pin. I really had to convince myself to just play safe.”

A schedule switch could have affected the Sooners, who played in the afternoon on Tuesday and teed off at 8:25 a.m., on Wednesday. Not so.

“It was a quick turnaround for us since we played yesterday in the last wave.,” Veronique Drouin-Luttrell said. “We had a quick dinner and rested as much as we could and went back to the hotel and hang out and had a team meeting early. Teeing off on the front nine was good. It was a little bit different than yesterday when we teed off the back nine. It was good, overall a good day.”

Second-ranked UCLA dropped from second place to fourth after two rounds, carding a 13-over-par 293, the highest score among the top-five teams in the standings after Wednesday -- Oklahoma, Duke and sixth-ranked Arizona State, respectively. The Bruins are tied with ninth-ranked Arizona for fourth.

“I think it has been a real test because of the wind,” UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth said. “If the wind really dies down, I think it will be a pretty score-able course. With the wind and when it has been this strong and gusty, it’s been hard, I shouldn’t say hard, its played difficult and I think the scores reflect that. You have a lot of great teams plus 20 through two rounds, that’s quite a bit over par.”

Top-ranked and defending champion Southern California likely would take a do-over after Wednesday’s round. The Trojans were in a three-way tie with Duke and Arizona State for third after Tuesday’s first round, with all three squads shooting a 13-over-par 293.

On Wednesday, Duke surged to second with a 5-over-par 285 and the Sun Devils were two strokes back in third with a 7-over-par 287. Southern California shot an 11-over-par 291.

“When you have a day like this where we felt like the conditions were favorable for us, they are going to be kicking themselves for the way they’ve played today,” USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. “There is almost nothing as a coach that I feel like I can say that will add to it. They will fuel their own fire and hopefully they will come out tomorrow and go after it.

“That’s just how we are going to have to do it. I know we are not going to be that many shots back, but we are going to have to figure out how to play this golf course. We have lost a lot of shots on this front nine the last two days and so we need to figure that out.

“If we can get off to a good start, maybe we can pick up a few shots.”

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