ASU Takes Control After Day 2

April 25, 2009

By Scott Campbell

STANFORD, Calif. -- Powered by outstanding rounds from its two seniors on Saturday, Arizona State took control of the Pac-10 Women's Golf Championship presented by Duramed.

Azahara Munoz shot a three-under-par 68 and Jennifer Osborn a two-under 69 at the Stanford University Golf Course to join teammate Carlota Ciganda and USC's Jennifer Song in a four-way tie atop the leaderboard at 1-under 141.

After entering the day in third place, two strokes behind UCLA, Arizona State rocketed past the Bruins and USC to take a five-stroke lead into Sunday's final round. The Sun Devils' 3-under-par 281 on Saturday puts them at 6-over for the 54-hole tournament. UCLA is at 11-over 579, and defending champion USC sits nine strokes off the lead at 15-over.

Munoz and Osborn made the biggest splashes for Arizona State, carding two of the day's three sub-par rounds, but they had plenty of help. Ciganda, a co-leader with USC's Song after the first day, fired an even-par 71, and Juliana Murcia rebounded from an opening-round 80 to shoot 2-over 73.

'We definitely had our mojo going today,' said Osborn, whose eight birdies are tied for the tournament lead. 'We'd see one person hit a good shot, and it would funnel a couple groups back.'

Munoz, the 2008 NCAA individual champion, was all smiles when noting the Sun Devil-heavy leaderboard.

'It's fun because it means the team is doing well,' Munoz said.

Munoz, who added the Sun Devils were 'disappointed' with their first-day showing, shot the tournament's low round after carding a 2-over 73 on Friday.

Seeking its second Pac-10 title in three years, and eighth overall, Arizona State earned a bit of a cushion with 18 holes to play. But the Sun Devils know full well what their competition is capable of.

While the Sun Devils are the top-ranked team in the country by Golfweek, UCLA is Golfstat's No. 1 program. The Bruins have a 3-2 advantage over Arizona State in head-to-head competition this season. And USC, No. 3 in both rankings and the 2008 NCAA champion, lurks within striking distance if either team slips.

'This is kind of what we anticipated it being about,' UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said of the nation's top-three teams battling it out. 'It's like any given week.'As for UCLA's mind-set with a five-shot deficit?

'You need to have a good round. We haven't had ours yet. Hopefully, that'll be tomorrow,' said Forsyth, whose program last won the Pac-10 in 2006. 'We know what we can do. We know what we're capable of. We've come from behind a couple of times earlier this season.'

Song and Ciganda, both freshmen, are hoping to claim their first collegiate titles in wire-to-wire fashion.

Song, who has two second-place finishes in eight appearances, chuckled when she saw her name alongside three Arizona State players in first place. Competing in the 2008 U.S. Women's Public Links Championship before she enrolled at USC, Song recalled being a part of a four-way leaderboard that was rounded out by three UCLA players.'This time it's not Bruins -- it's ASU,' said Song, who finished second at the Public Links. 'It's actually kind of funny.'

Ciganda is also no stranger to contending. The Spanish freshman finished second in her Arizona State debut at the Northrup Grumann Regional Challenge and has four top-10 finishes in five spring tournaments.

'This week, I'm feeling really good,' said Ciganda, whose 29 pars lead the field. 'My driver - I'm hitting it to the fairway.'

Washington State senior Amy Eneroth and UCLA sophomore Maria Jose Uribe share fifth place at 1-over 143, two strokes behind the leaders. Eneroth fired an even-par 71, one of eight Saturday rounds at par or better. Uribe's eight birdies are tied for the lead. Eneroth is third with seven.

Stanford senior Mari Chun (2-over) carded a 72 for the second straight day to take sole possession of seventh. UCLA sophomore Glory Yang (3-over) is four shots off the lead after shooting 1-under 70, the day's third-best round.

Cal's Pia Halbig and USC's Lizette Salas and Belen Mozo are all at 4-over, tied for ninth.

In the team competition, Arizona sits in fourth place at 26-over 594, followed by host Stanford at 28-over. Cal and Washington State are tied for sixth at 35-over. Washington (38-over), Oregon (39-over) and Oregon State (55-over) complete the field.

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