If you want to argue that the Pac-12 is the strongest conference in Division I women’s golf, the team leaderboard after two rounds of the NCAA Championship would seem to support that view.
Powerful Southern California, No. 2 in the latest Golfstat rankings, put up an 8-under 280 over the 6,468-yard, par-72 Eugene Country Club layout in Eugene, Ore. Saturday to surge to a five-shot lead, but the Trojans have a lot of familiar names on their heels.
The top priority in the team chase is to be one of the eight survivors that make it to match play beginning Tuesday. But first, you have to survive a cut to 15 teams that comes at the end of Sunday’s third round and then finish in the top eight after Monday’s final round of stroke play.
Following Saturday’s second round, the top four teams are all from the Pac-12 and the conference has six of the top seven spots.
No. 13 Washington, which added a 3-under 285 to its opening-round 289 is alone in second place at 2-under 574. Southern Cal’s cross-town rival UCLA, ranked third, fell back a little with a 3-over 291, but is alone in third at 1-over 577. Then it’s defending NCAA champion Stanford, ranked 12th, which put a 5-under 283 on the board to move up to fourth at 2-over 578.
Big 12 champion Oklahoma State, ranked eighth, broke up the Pac-12 party by getting a share of fifth with host Oregon, ranked 20th, at 3-over 279. Oklahoma State, which held the lead at the end of the first round, fell back with a 7-over 295. Oregon added a 6-under 282 to its opening-round 297.
Arizona, ranked 10th, makes it six of the top seven from the Pac-12 as the Wildcats are in seventh place at 4-over 580 following a 1-over 289. Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, ranked seventh, is alone in eight place at 5-over 581. Rounding out the top 10 is a three-way tie for ninth at 6-over 582 among South Carolina, ranked 18th, Tennessee, ranked 21st, and No. 5 Duke. South Carolina had a 1-over 289, Tennessee posted a 3-under 285 and Duke carded a 5-under 283 Saturday that enabled the Blue Devils to move up from a tie for 21st following Friday’s opening round.
Top-ranked Alabama will have to make a big move to make the cut to 15 that’s coming Sunday. The Crimson Tide is in 21st place at 592 after a 4-over 292, although they are only five shots out of the top 15.
USC has three players in the top 10, led by Kyung Kim, a senior from Chandler, Ariz. who has been in many of these NCAA battles. Kim carded a 2-under 70 and is tied for eighth at 3-under 141. Karen Chung, a junior from Livingston, N.J., had the best round of the day for the Trojans, a 3-under 69 that landed her in a tie for 10th at 2-under 142. She was joined at that figure by teammate Tiffany Chan, a junior from Hong Kong who has posted a pair of 71s.
USC got a clutch round from Robynn Ree, a freshman from Redondo Beach, Calif. whose 2-under 70 vaulted her into a tie for 67th at 4-over 148. Gabriella Then, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., had a 76 and is tied for 85th at 150.
Leading the individual chase is Miami’s Dewi Weber, a freshman from the Netherlands who fired a 6-under 66 Saturday to lead by one at 9-under 135. The top nine individuals from non-advancing schools following Sunday’s round will stay in the hunt for the individual championship, which will be decided during Monday’s round.
Tennessee’s Anna Newell, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla., is alone in second place following a 5-under 67 that left her at 8-under 136. Duke’s Virginia Elena Carta, a freshman from Italy, carded a 4-under 68 and is alone in third place at 7-under 137.
Four players are tied for fourth at 6-under 136. They are: Arizona’s Haley Moore, a freshman from Escondido, Calif. who had a share of the opening-round lead and posted a 2-under 70 Saturday; Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight, a freshman from Aleto, Texas who had her second straight 68; Oregon’s Caroline Inglis, a senior from Eugene, Ore. who fired a sparkling 7-under 65; and Ohio State’s Rio Wantanabe, a redshirt sophomore from Japan who had a 4-under 68.
Joining USC’s Kim in a tie for eighth at 3-under 141 is Stanford’s Casey Danielson, a junior from Osceola, Wis. who added a 2-under 70 to her opening-round 71.
Purdue’s August Kim, a junior from St. Augustine, Fla., had a share of the opening-round lead with a 68 Friday, but fell back with a 75 Saturday that left the Big Ten champion in a tie for 19th at 1-under 143.