USC Opens Seven Shot Lead After Two Rounds
TEMPE, Ariz. - USC freshman Sophia Popov shot a 1-under 71 to move into a share of the lead and helped lift the #2 ranked Trojans to a seven-shot lead at the Pac-10 Women's Golf Championships at Karsten Golf Course.
Popov, who won the ASU Ping Invitational at Karsten two weeks ago, was one of just four players to shoot under par in the second round, and used the steady performance to join UCLA's Tiffany Lua atop the leaderboard with a 4-under 140. USC's Cyna Rodriguez is one shot off the pace at -3.
"Pin positions were definitely a little harder today and that made it harder to play the shots as aggressively," Popov said. "I left too many putts short on the linem especially on the second nine. That's something I need to work on in practice to get that security back."
Lua posted an even par 72 after shooting a 4-under 68 in the opening round. The UCLA sophomore took sole possession of the lead when she recorded an eagle-3 on the 14th, but suffered bogies on 16 and 17 to drop back to even for the day.
"I struggled a little bit in the beginning with my putter. I gave myself some opportunities, but wasn't able to convert them," Lua said. "I was able to get an eagle on the 14th and finished with a good par on 18. I need to fine tune some things from today, but overall I am playing pretty well and hope to carry that into tomorrow."
Two-time defending Pac-10 Champion Carlota Ciganda had the low round of the day with a 3-under 69 to move within three shots of the lead at -1 143. The ASU junior is attempting to become the first player in Conference history to win three Pac-10 titles.
"Today I was a lot more aggressive and I played really well off the tee," Ciganda said. "I hit a lot more greens. Tomorrow I need to do the same thing. It's been nice winning two in a row, but I'm not going to be thinking about winning. I just need to go out play golf and have fun."
Ciganda finds herself in a six-way tie for fourth place with Kyndall Ardoin and Isabelle Boineau from Arizona, Sally Watson, Marissa Mar and Katrina Wong from Stanford and Joanne Lee from California.
Aside from Ciganda and Popov, Cal's Pia Halbig and Ardoin were the only other players to shoot under-par with a pair 1-under 70s.
USC used a strong finish over the final four holes to surge into the team lead. The Trojans, seeking their third Pac-10 title and first since 2008, used three birdies and 16 pars from 15-18 to move to +3 for the day and -3 for the tournament. Arizona shot a 2-over 290 to join Stanford in second place just seven shots back.
"We had a really slow start and that had me a little concerned, but we really had a good comeback on the back nine," USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. "We're up seven but that's never a big enough lead, especially at a Pac-10 Championship. We need to go out there play hard, make good decisions and stay very patient. Hopefully we can get off to a good start tomorrow, stay patient on the backside and hold it together."
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