With the field in the hunt for the NCAA Division I women’s golf crown being cut from 24 teams to 15 Sunday at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., the best teams were rising to the top, led by Pac-12 champion Southern California, ranked No. 2 in the latest Golfstat rankings.
The Trojans, their crosstown rival UCLA, ranked third, and No. 5 Duke are the only three teams under par after 54 holes. Only the top eight teams will survive after Monday’s round and will move on to match play beginning Tuesday.
Southern Cal carded a 3-over 291 Sunday and stands at 4-under 860. UCLA had a 3-under 285 and Duke had the day’s best round, an 8-under 280, as the Bruins and the Blue Devils are tied for second at 2-under 862.
No. 1 Alabama managed a 2-over 290 to climb from 21st into 14th at 882 and lived to play another day. The Crimson Tide face another big climb to make it to the top eight for match play.
Washington, ranked 13th, had a 292 and is alone in fourth place at 2-over 866, defending national champion Stanford, ranked 12th, had a 290 and is in fifth place at 4-over 868, host Oregon had a 291 and is in sixth place at 870 and South Carolina had a 290 and is in seventh place at 872.
Two teams – ACC champion Virginia, ranked 15th, with a 2-under 286 and No. 10 Arizona with a 293 – are tied for eighth at 9-over 873. Rounding out the top 10 are Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, ranked seventh, which had a 295, and Big 12 champion Oklahoma State, ranked eighth, which had a 297, in a tie for 10th at 12-over 876.
Southern Cal does not have an individual in the top 14, but the Trojans keep getting solid showings when they need them.
Karen Chung, a junior from Livingston, N.J., and Tiffany Chan, a junior from Hong Kong, are tied for 15th at even-par 216 after both carded 2-over 74s. USC was able to throw out the 77 carded by Kyung Kim, its senior leader from Chandler, Ariz., although she is tied for 27th at 2-over 218. Robynn Ree, a freshman from Redondo Beach, Calif., had a clutch 72 and is tied for 45th at 220 and Gabriella Then, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., had the Trojans’ best score of the day, a 1-under 71, that vaulted her into a tie for 58th at 221.
Duke’s surge up the team leaderboard was fueled by the play of Virginia Elena Carta, a freshman from Italy who took control in the battle for the individual title by firing a 6-under 66 over the 6,331-yard, par-72 Eugene Country Club layout that gives her a commanding six-shot lead.
The individual champion will be crowned following Monday’s round.
Carta’s 13-under 203 total smashed the 54-hole tournament record by four shots.
Three more freshmen, Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight of Aledo, Texas, Miami’s Dewi Weber of the Netherlands and Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho of Littleton, Colo. are in a three-way tie for second at 7-under 209. Knight had a 1-under 71, Weber, who led after two rounds, fell back with a 74 and Kupcho continued her strong postseason run with a sparkling 5-under 67.
Oregon’s Carolina Inglis, a senior from Eugene, Ore., and Tennessee’s Anna Newell, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla., are tied for fifth at 5-under 211. Inglis carded a 1-over 73 on a course I’m guessing she’s seen a time or two and Newell fell back with a 75.
Leading a group tied for seventh at 4-under 212 is UCLA’s Bronte Law, a junior from England who is the top-ranked individual player in Division I by Golfstat. Law carded a 3-under 69. She is joined at 4-under by Virginia’s Lauren Coughlin, the ACC champion out of Chesapeake, Va., and Arizona’s Haley Moore, a freshman from Escondido, Calif. Coughlin fired a 4-under 68 while Moore had a 2-over 74.
Rounding out the top 10 are two pretty good players tied for 10th in South Carolina’s Katelyn Dambaugh, a junior from Goose Creek, S.C., and Duke’s Leona Maguire, a sophomore from Ireland who is the top-ranked amateur player in the world. Dambaugh and Maguire each carded a 1-under 71.
And one of the nine individuals from non-advancing teams who stayed alive in the individual chase is Purdue’s August Kim, a junior from St. Augustine, Fla. Kim, the Big Ten champion, carded a 1-over 73 and is tied for 15th at even-par 216.