STILLWATER, Okla. –– A day after Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho set a Karsten Creek course individual record with a 7-under 65 in the first round of the NCAA DI Women’s Golf Championships, UCLA combined to set a new team record on Saturday to propel the Bruins to the top of the team leaderboard after 36 holes.
UCLA teamed up to shoot a 9-under 279 in Saturday’s second round, jumping into the leaderboard’s top spot and shattering their own course record of 287 set on May 10, 2014. Currently sitting at 3-under, the Bruins ended the day under par for the tournament, followed by second-place Alabama (+2) and third-place Southern California (+13). The Trojans lead the field after Day 1.
“I was excited for the fact that we were playing in the morning today, and just looking at the forecast, knowing that it wasn’t going to be very windy at all,” UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said. “This is as score-able as this course will be.”
The Bruins boasted two players in the top five on the individual leaderboard and three in the top 13 after the first two days of action, led by Lilia Vu who shot a 68 in her second round to end the day in fourth overall at 4-under.
“I think I just played smart today”, Vu said. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities, and made all the must-make putts. I didn’t have many mistakes because I think I just knew where was accessible to the pin and where to leave myself to avoid mistakes.”
“I think I’m just going to play the same game I did today," she added. "just don’t be too greedy because when you get greedy the outcomes aren’t that good sometimes.”
Alabama turned in the only other sub-par round on Saturday, using a pair of 69’s from co-leader Cheyenne Knight and ninth-place Lauren Stephenson to shoot a 2-under 286.
"We just needed to go out and play a nice solid round and make sure that everybody behind us feels the pressure, not us,” Crimson Tide coach Mic Potter said. “So we can come out here and play with commitment and just play our games. I've been very impressed with our team."
"I've been driving it well all week so just having that confidence lets me know exactly where I'm going to hit it,” said Knight, who is tied for the individual clubhose lead at 5-under. “Those are the strengths of my game, my driving and my putting and the last few tournaments it's been off. But I've been working on it, and it really feels natural. I'm not thinking about too much and just being comfortable."
Along with Knight, Kupcho and Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan are also 5-under for the weekend heading into the third round.
.@AlabamaWGolf finishes the first round of the #NCAAGolf Women's Championship 1 shot behind leader USC (+3) in second place at +4. Cheyenne Knight talks about the round after finishing the day tied for 4th at -2. #RollTide pic.twitter.com/VNQGSLGbb9— Alabama Women's Golf (@AlabamaWGolf) May 19, 2018
Pagdanganan posted a 4-under 68 on Saturday. After bogeying two of her first five holes to open the day, Pagdanganan bounced back nicely with four birdies over the final 13 holes to go along with an ace on the par-3 11th.
"It was 148 yards and I had an 8-iron. I was like, just get it on the green. It's kind of a tough pin," Pagdanganan said. "The pin was in front by the left side-ish. I hit my shot and my depth perception's pretty bad, so I kind of let go and I was just like, ‘shoot.’ I don't know. There's a ridge by the green and because I hit it hard I thought it was going off the ridge and go to the back. I was like, ‘oh no.’ It started rolling back and I was about to turn around, and then people started yelling by the green. I turned to my coach and I was like, ‘hole-in-one?’ He's like, ‘yeah!’ And then I started jumping.”
A little over 24 hours after turning in a stunning 65 in her first round, Kupcho maintained her position at the top of the leaderboard Saturday. Following a tough stretch on the front nine that put her at 3-over at the turn, the Demon Deacon carded a pair of birdies to only one bogey on the back nine to finish the day with a 2-over 74.
"I struggled hitting the ball today, so it was a little rough,” Kupcho said. “But I was able to recover on the back nine. … I think I need to just keep working on the driver. I want to make sure I can get it in play off the tee."
Round three of stroke play at Karsten Creek will tee off Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET. At the conclusion of play, the field will be cut to the top 15 teams and the top nine individuals not on an advancing team to compete in Monday’s fourth round.