Northwestern, No. 12 in the latest Golfstat rankings, continued its methodical march to what looks like will be a third straight Big Ten title and fourth in five years while Sarah Burnham was rewriting the Michigan State and conference record books in the Big Ten Championship Saturday at TPC River’s Bend in Maineville, Ohio.
Northwestern added a 3-under-par 285 to its opening round of even-par 288 and is the only team under par through two rounds at 3-under 573. No. 62 Michigan State is eight shots back in second at 5-over 581 after the Spartans had the best round of the day, a 5-under 283.
And a big reason for that low round was the astounding 9-under 63 fired by Burnham, a junior from Maple Grove, Minn. Burnham was the runnerup on a tough golf course, Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, in leading the Spartans to the team title in the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational last weekend.
And it’s not like the 6,357-yard, par-72 River’s Bend layout was playing easy Saturday. Nobody else broke 70. But Burnham made it look easy.
Burnham rattled off six straight birdies from holes three through eight on the front nine and then birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine, giving her 10 birdies in a stretch of 12 holes. She made a double bogey on the par-4 15 before finishing up with a birdie at the last. Her 11 birdies in the round would be nearly two-thirds of the way to the Annika Sorenstam standard for the perfect round of golf: Birdie every hole.
The 63 broke the Michigan State single-round record of 66 owned by Burnham and it was two shots better than the previous Big Ten Championship record.
Combined with her opening-round 73, the 9-under round left Burnham with a four-shot lead in the individual chase at 8-under 136.
No. 30 Ohio State, which shared the team title with Northwestern the last two years, is another nine shots behind Michigan State in third at 14-over 590 after a 6-over 294. No. 52 Wisconsin is fourth at 597 after a second-round 306, No. 33 Michigan is fifth at 599 after a 304 and No. 24 Purdue has to be a little disappointed to be in sixth place at 602 after a 303.
Denise St. Pierre’s young Penn State squad, ranked 75th, is in ninth place in the 14-team field at 615 after a second-round 309.
Northwestern will be tough to catch in Sunday’s final round. The Wildcats have three players in the top six and five in the top 13. Teams count their best four scores from six players.
Leading the way is Janet Mao, a sophomore from Johns Creek, Ga. who carded a 2-under 70 and is alone in fifth at 1-under 143.
Hannah Kim, a junior from Chula Vista, Calif. who was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in each of her first two seasons, matched Mao’s 2-under 70 and is tied for sixth with teammate Sarah Cho, a junior from San Diego, at even-par 144. Cho opened with a 70 and posted a 2-over 74 Saturday.
Stephanie Lau, a sophomore from Fullerton, Calif., is tied for 10th at 3-over 147 after posting a 76, Kacie Komoto, a senior from Honolulu, Hawaii, is tied for 13th after improving seven shots from her opening round with a 1-under 71 to get to 5-over 149 and Monica Matsubara, a sophomore from Singapore, is tied for 51st at 158 after carding an 80.
Michigan’s Elodie Van Dievort, a sophomore from Belgium who was alone in first place in the individual standings following an opening-round 69, is tied for second at 4-under 140 after a 1-under 71. Minnesota’s Emie Peronnin, a senior from France, joined Van Dievort at 140 after posting a second consecutive 70.
Ohio State’s Jaclyn Lee, a sophomore from Canada, is alone in fourth place at 2-under 142 after adding a 2-under 70 to her opening-roiund 72.
Leading the way for Purdue is senior August Kim, the reigning Big Ten champion from St. Augustine, Fla. Kim added a 2-over 74 to her opening-round 75 and is among a group tied for 13th at 5-over 149. Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru, gives the Boilermakers another player in the top 20 as she is alone in 17th at 6-over 150 after a second consecutive 75.
Ida Ayu Indira Melati Putri, a sophomore from Bali, is tied for 21st at 152 after a second consecutive 76. It was a tough day for Marta Martin, a junior from Spain who followed up an opening-round 73 with an 81 and is tied for 34th at 154.
Covadonga SanJuan carded a second consecutive 78 and is tied for 40th at 156 and Linn Andersson, a junior from Sweden, is tied for 56th at 159 after carding a 79.
Leading the way for Penn State is sophomore Jackie Rogowicz, a two-time District One champion at Pennsbury. Rogowicz is sitting just outside the top 20 in a tie for 21st at 8-over 152 after adding a 78 to her opening-round 74.
Sophomore Lauren Waller, the 2014 PIAA Class AAA runnerup at Canon-McMillan, is tied for 29th at 153 after posting the lowest score among the Nittany Lions Saturday, a 3-over 75.
Freshman Madelein Herr, the 2015 District One Class AAA champion at Council Rock North, is tied for 36th at 155 after a 4-over 76. Ashni Dhruva, a freshman from Katy, Texas, is tied for 55th at 159 after posting an 80.
It was a tough day for sophomore Cara Basso, the 2012 PIAA Class AA champion at Villa Maria Academy who has been pretty solid this spring. After an opening with a 75 Friday, Basso signed for an 86 in the second round and is tied for 62nd at 161.
Graduate student Kate Granahan, a Parkland product, is tied for 70th at 163 after shooting an 80 in the second round.