With its two best players playing some pretty fine golf, Duke jumped out to a 13-shot lead Friday after two rounds of the LSU Tiger Golf Classic at The University Club in Baton Rouge, La.
Originally scheduled as a three-day event, tournament organizers called an audible with a forecast for bad weather Saturday in the Bayou and decided to make it a double-round Friday. The teams will get the day off Saturday and then finish off, as scheduled, with 18 holes Sunday. Defending team champion Duke didn’t seem to mind the change of plans.
The Blue Devils’ Leona Maguire, a junior from Ireland and the No. 1 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), surged to a five-shot lead in the individual chase with teammate Virginia Elena Carta, a sophomore from Italy and the reigning NCAA individual champion, one of her closest pursuers in a tie for second.
With that kind of 1-2 punch, the Blue Devils, No. 11 in the latest Golfstat rankings, opened with a 3-under-par 285 over the 6,247-yard, par-72 University Club layout and added a 2-under 586 in the afternoon for a 5-under 571 total.
No. 19 Oklahoma bounced back from an opening-round 298 with a 2-under 286 in the afternoon to get a share of second with No. 15 Arkansas, which had rounds of 293 and 291, at 8-over 584.
No. 29 N.C. State is alone in fourth at 12-over 588 after an afternoon 298. No. 27 SMU and No. 53 Denver are tied for fifth at 19-over 595 in the strong 15-team field. The Mustangs bounced back from an opening-round 301 with a 294 in the afternoon and the Pioneers improved from an opening-round 300 with a 295 in round 2.
Maguire certainly played like the best amateur player in the world, firing a 5-under 67 in the morning and coming back with a 4-under 68 in the afternoon for a 9-under 135 total.
Carta, No. 14 in the Women’s WAGR and the runnerup in the U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer at Rolling Green Golf Club, was slowed this spring while she recovered from having her tonsils removed. She opened up with a 1-over 73, but fired a 5-under 67 in the afternoon and is tied for second at 4-under 140.
Carta was joined at that figure by Washington’s Julianne Alvarez, a sophomore from New Zealand and one of the heroes of the Huskies’ dramatic run to the NCAA team title a year ago. Alvarez had a pair of 70s.
Gurbani Singh, a junior from India, backed up Duke’s dynamic duo with rounds of 71 and 76 that left her tied for 13th at 3-over 147. Ana Belac, a freshman from Slovenia, is tied for 44th at 9-over 153 after a 3-over 75 in the afternoon and Sandy Choi, a senior from South Korea, is tied for 53rd at 155 with an 81 in the afternoon after opening with a solid 2-over 74.
Leona Maguire’s twin sister Lisa is competing as an individual and is tied for 65th with rounds of 81 and 77.
Arkansas was led by Cara Gorlei, a sophomore from South Africa who added a 2-under 70 to her opening-round 72 and is alone in fourth, two shots behind Carta and Alvarez at 2-under 142.
N.C. State’s Sarah Bae, a senior from Pinehurst, N.C., is alone in fifth place at 1-under 143. Bae had one of just four sub-70 rounds recorded Friday when she opened with a 3-under 69. She added a 74 in the afternoon.
SMU’s Lindsey McCurdy, a senior from Kyle, Texas, and Kansas’ Yi-Tsen Chou, a freshman from Taiwan, are tied for sixth at even-par 144. Both went 71-73 for the day.