Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo., opened up a three-shot lead and Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor, continued to play some solid golf as a freshman at North Carolina on Day 2 Saturday of the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational.
Kupcho, who was one of the top freshmen in the country last season, added a 4-under 68 over the 6,379-yard, par-72 Finley Golf Club layout to her opening-round 67 for a 9-under 135 total. Kupcho is three shots clear of Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson, a sophomore from Lexington, S.C. who had a 70 Saturday and is at 6-under 138.
Kupcho and Stephenson also have their teams locked in a tie for the top spot in the team standings. Kupcho’s Demon Deacons added a 1-under 287 to their opening-round 282 while the Tide had a 4-under 284 after opening with a 285. The teams are tied at 7-under 569. Reigning Big 10 co-champion Ohio State is just a shot back in third place at 6-under 570 after posting a 1-under 287.
Arkansas also had a 1-under 287 and sits in fourth place at 3-under 573. A 1-over 289 has North Carolina State in fifth place at 1-over 577, reigning ACC champion Virginia is sixth at 4-over 580 following the day’s best round, a 5-under 283, and South Carolina is seventh at 7-over 583 after carding a 3-over 291.
The Tide made its move with two more players in the top five in the individual standings behind Stephenson. Kristen Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion from Austin, Texas who is a major addition to the Alabama program as a freshman, and Cheyenne Knight, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, are tied for fifth at 3-under 141. Gillman added a 2-under 70 to her opening-round 71 while Knight had a 1-under 71 after opening with a 70.
Wake Forest got a pair of even-par rounds of 72 from Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas, and junior Erica Herr, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion from Council Rock North. It was the second straight 72 for Sims, who is tied for 13th at even-par 144. Herr is tied for 29th at 147.
Antonia Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, is tied for 23rd at 146, although the Demon Deacons were able to toss her second-round 76. Wake Forest’s star freshman, Sierra Brooks, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur runnerup from Sorrento, Fla., carded a 75 and is tied for 34th at 148.
The Blue team for the host Tar Heels, with Walker leading the way, posted a 3-over 291 and is in ninth place at 12-over 588. The Tar Heels are a shot ahead of ACC rival Duke, which had a 9-over 297 and is at 589. Pretty sure that North Carolina-Duke rivalry extends beyond just the basketball court.
Walker had six birdies in an even-par 72 and is tied for 18th at 1-over 145. The Tar Heels also got rounds of 1-over 73 from Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill., Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., and Leslie Coots, a senior from Belgium.
It was the second straight 73 for Harkins, who is tied for 23rd at 146, Whaley is tied for 34th at 148 and Coots is tied for 44th at 149. Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md., had a second straight 76 and is tied for 60th at 152.
North Carolina’s White team is in 17th place in the 18-team field after a 312 round left it with a 616 total. Mariana Ocano, a freshman from St. Petersburg, Fla., had a 75 and is in the group tied for 60th at 152 in leading the way for the White team effort.
Ohio State is in contention behind a pair of players in the top five in the individual chase. Niki Schroeder, a sophomore from Avon Lake, Ohio, had an even-par 72 and is tied for third at 4-under 140 and Jessica Porvasnik, a senior from Hinckley, Ohio, had a 1-under 71 and is in the group tied for fifth at 3-under 141.
Joining Schroeder in the tie for third at 4-under 140 is Alana Uriell, a junior from Carlsbad, Calif. who had a second straight 70 and is leading the way for the Razorbacks.
Besides Alabama’s Gillman and Knight and Ohio State’s Porvasnik, three other players are tied for fifth at 3-under 141. Tennessee’s Micheala Williams had the day’s best round, a 5-under 67, North Carolina State’s India Clyburn, a sophomore from England, had an even-par 72 and Virginia’s Lauren Diaz-Yi, a senior from Thousand Oaks, Calif., had a 2-under 70.