Trojans Reclaim NCAA Championships Lead
May 22, 2008
The elements were milder - by a bit - but the play intensified and No. 2 USC weathered it better than most. And just as the day started, it ended, with Troy jockeying for first place after (most of) the third round of the 2008 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at the University of New Mexico Championship G.C. in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday (May 22).
For the second day in a row, play was stopped before the round was finished, this time due to darkness. Many teams, including USC, had at least one player who needed to finish at least one hole before completing their round.
Making its 17th consecutive NCAA appearance and its 11th straight in the championship final, all under 12th-year head coach Andrea Gaston, the Women of Troy finished the evening at 16-overall and 8-over for the day, which included two holes to be finished. (Results were still being officially checked at this posting and could change. Results for players who have not finished the third round will not be official until after they complete their rounds Friday).
USC, which won its only NCAA team title in 2003, is dueling for its second as well as its fourth top 5 finish in the last six years. Troy is also riding a three-tournament winning streak and has four victories on the season.
Half the field started play at 7 a.m. MDT today to complete the second round after play was halted Wednesday due to high winds. The second round was completed without pause, but the third round, which began at 1 p.m. with a shotgun start and four-player groups, was underway for only 20 minutes before being suspended due to rain and lightning.
Just short of an hour later, the weather system passed and play resumed. Warm and windy on Wednesday turned into cold and breezy Thursday afternoon. But temperatures continued to drop as the wind picked up, turning the final four hours into another battle not only for first, but to stay focused on the ball and not the damp conditions.
UCLA took over the lead early in the round, opening up a four-shot lead. USC, as the Trojans made the turn, climbed back in front and managed to maintain an edge over the Bruins that fluctuated between four and two strokes for the second half of the third round.
Senior Dewi Claire Schreefel, the 2006 NCAA Champion and a two-time All-American who started on the 3rd hole, got USC off to a hot start, going 4-under through her first eight holes. She dropped to even as the weather worsened before managing a birdie on the 18th hole. She bogeyed the 1st hole but hadn't finished the 2nd when play stopped.
Sophomore Belen Mozo opened the round in first at 4-under but bogeys on 2 and 8 dropped to her 2-under. She climbed back to even for the round with birdies on the 9th and 11th holes, but bogeys on the 13th, 15th and 17th holes gave her a 3-over 75 for the round. She is tied for second at 1-under 215 (69-71-72), behind Arizona State's Azahara Munoz (214) and tied with UCLA's Tiffany Joh. All three played together today.
Mozo said the cold conditions and the rush to finish took a toll on her game.
'It was really hard for me. I hit some good shots and made some putts, but the most important thing in the game is being mentally strong and I wasn't toward the end,' Mozo said. 'All of the stopping and starting (as groups backed up) and playing fast to try to finish the round, it took me off my game. It was also very hard to see at the end.'
But despite that, she is optimistic for tomorrow's final round.
'Last year, we were fourth (at NCAAs), which for us, was good,' she said. 'Now we are playing for first with a round to go. This team is very close and it would mean a lot if we could bring the trophy back to USC.'
Senior Paola Moreno, who tied for second a year ago, got herself into the top 15 at 6-over 222 (70-77-75) and was 3-over for the round. Her round was close to being brilliant save for a frustratingly number of putts that were off by just an inch or so.
Freshman Lizette Salas opened with a bogey on 3 and had another on 11, but the steady 2008 Pac-10 Freshman of Year birdied the 13th and 15th holes to get to even. A putt that went slightly astray on the 16th kept her from finishing the day a bit better, though she has one more hole to play.
Any players that did not finish play Thursday will start at 7 a.m. on Friday. The final round will begin at 8 a.m. with the bottom 12 teams. The top 12 teams begin in the afternoon. USC is scheduled to begin at 1:20 p.m. and will be paired with UCLA and Arizona State.