No. 2 Oregon Takes One-Stroke Lead Into Final Round
PALOS VERDES, Calif. – A terrific showing on the back nine Monday vaulted the Oregon women's golf team into first place entering the final round of the Northrop Grumman Challenge at Palos Verdes Golf Club.
The No. 2 Ducks started Monday in a tie for second place and one shot back of the 18-hole lead. Oregon remained in second at the turn after making seven bogeys and four birdies as a team on the front nine, and finished strong with just six bogeys against nine birdies and an eagle on the back nine to close with a 5-under 279.
UO sits at 2-under par overall going into Tuesday's final round, one stroke up on No. 6 Virginia (-1) for the lead and six strokes ahead of No. 5 Wake Forest (+4). The Ducks' 279 on Monday is the best single-round score in the tournament through 36 holes.
"I'm really proud of the way our team battled today," head coach Derek Radley said. "We got off to a decent start and then really buckled down and played some good golf down the stretch. The second round is always so important in terms of giving yourself a chance going into the last day, and we were able to put ourselves in a good position. We're playing with confidence and now we need to go out and finish strong tomorrow."
How it Happened: Four of Oregon's five players shot under par on Monday to compile the 5-under 279, and no Duck made more than four bogeys throughout the round. UO leads the field with 125 total pars through two rounds – 11 more than any other team – and the Ducks have been the top team on par-4 holes at 4 over and second-best on par-5s at 8 under.
Junior Ching-Tzu Chen was Oregon's top performer in the second round, making two birdies and 16 pars for a bogey-free 2-under 69. Chen closed her front nine with back-to-back birdies before making nine straight pars on the back nine.
The trio of Tze-Han (Heather) Lin, Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu and Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen all fired a 1-under 70 to round out Oregon's counting scores. Lu was 2 under before making her lone bogey at No. 18, while Lin bounced back from three bogeys on the front nine with four birdies and just one bogey on the back. Nielsen was 1 over through 13 holes before making an eagle and a birdie on back-to-back holes to get under par.
Lu and Nielsen are the top Ducks on the leaderboard in a tie for seventh at 1-under par overall, with Chen and Briana Chacon in a tie for 15th at 2-over par. Chacon shot a 3-over 74 on Monday after leading Oregon with a 1-under 70 in Sunday's opening round.
1. #2 Oregon – 287-279 – 566 (-2)
2. #6 Virginia - 287-280 – 567 (-1)
3. #5 Wake Forest - 292-280 – 572 (+4)
4. #12 Arizona State - 291-284 – 575 (+7)
5. Kent State - 286-290 – 576 (+8)
Ducks on the Leaderboard:
T7. Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu – 71-70 – 141 (-1)
T7. Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen – 71-70 – 141 (-1)
T15. Briana Chacon – 70-74 – 144 (+2)
T15. Ching-Tzu Chen – 75-69 – 144 (+2)
T30. Tze-Han (Heather) Lin – 77-70 – 147 (+5)
What it Means: The No. 2 Ducks entered the tournament as the highest-ranked team in a field that features three other top-10 teams and 10 total top-25 programs, and Oregon backed up its ranking with the best round of the week on Monday. UO goes into Tuesday looking for its second straight victory, third of the season, and fourth in the last calendar year after the program went more than five years without a team win.
Notable: Rachel Kuehn of Wake Forest leads the individual race at 8-under par, seven strokes up on Lu and Nielsen … Chen leads the field with 28 total pars, and Lu is tied for second with 27 … Nielsen carded her first eagle of the season and fourth of her career on the par-4 14th hole … The team title will likely come down to a battle between Oregon and Virginia, which is led by former UO head coach Ria Scott.
Up Next: Tuesday's final round will begin with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. PT. The Ducks will be paired with Virginia, Wake Forest and Arizona State, which sits nine strokes back of Oregon in fourth.