Houston — For the first time since the opening round of the 2016 tournament, someone other than Rhodes College has the lead at the NCAA Division III Women's Golf National Championships. George Fox University overtook the defending national champions in the third round of the 2017 Championships Thursday and will take a four-stroke lead into the final day.
The Bruins fired a tournament-low 297 with four rounds of 77 or better on Thursday and have a three-day total of 303-303-297=903. That score puts George Fox four strokes clear of the second-place Lynx at 301-300=306=907. Williams College is in third place with a 303-303-308=914 as the Ephs dropped 11 strokes off the pace.
Wittenberg University (314-298-305) holds down fourth place with a 917 three-day total. U.T. Tyler fired a 302 on Thursday and the Patriots' 927 moved them into the fifth spot in the team standings. Illinois Wesleyan also made a big move, firing a third-round 316 for a 993 team total to slip past Central College's 1,005 and into the final spot in Friday's field of 15.
There is a two-way tie for the individual lead between Nikki Isaacson of Rhodes College (71-77-71) and Bridgewater's Christina Herbert (74-69-76) and 219. Issacson's round featured three birdies and an eagle on the sixth hole. Herbert posted a birdie on her 17th hole of the day to grab a share of the lead. Wittenberg's Macy Hubbard (75-71-74) and Berry College's Sydney Weaver (72-76-72) share third place with 220's. Jane Hopkinson-Wood of Wittenberg and George Fox teammates Kristin Elich and Iris Kawada are tied for fifth place with three-round totals of 222. There are 13 players within seven shots of the lead in a tightly bunched individual field. Elich and Isaacson carded the low individual rounds of Thursday with one-under par 71's. There were six eagles recorded during another round played in cloudy, breezy conditions that helped keep temperatures down in the mid 80's.
The tournament is being played on a par-72, 5,869-yard layout at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston. Twenty-two teams and six individuals competed in the first three rounds. The field will be cut to the low 15 teams and six individuals not on an advancing team for Friday's final round. Tee times for the final round will begin at 7:45 AM Central Time on Friday with the awards presentation tentatively scheduled for 3:30 PM Central. Video highlights and a complete wrap-up of third round action will be available on NCAA.com.