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Ducks March Up NCAA Leaderboard

May 21, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Grayhawk Golf Club again put up a fight Saturday against the best women's golf teams in the country, but this time the No. 2-ranked Oregon women were equal to the task.

One day after shooting 9 over in gusting afternoon winds during the first round, the Ducks posted the best round so far by any team in the tournament in Saturday's second round. Led by scores of 1-under 71 from Tze-Han (Heather) Lin and Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen, the UO women shot even par as a group Saturday to pick up four strokes on first-place Stanford and enter Sunday's third round in second place overall.

The Ducks were slow starters again Saturday, and when their first player off the No. 1 tee — Ching-Tzu Chen — carded double bogey at No. 9, the UO women were 6 over for the day and 15 over for the tournament. That put them in a tie for 15th place overall, on the bubble to make the cut for Monday's final round. But Nielsen got hot with three straight birdies beginning at No. 7, Chen birdied two of her first four holes after the turn and Briana Chacon teamed with Lin to go 4 under with no bogeys on the back nine.

Collectively, those four UO players whose scores counted Saturday played the back nine in 5 under. The rally stirred memories of Oregon's Pac-12 Tournament victory, in which the Ducks used a blistering back nine during their second round to take command.

"We just hit some uncharacteristic shots on that front nine, but they really stayed positive," UO coach Derek Radley said. "As we made the turn, (assistant) coach Monica Vaughn texted to let me know a couple putts dropped, and I saw a couple birdies too. I was like, all right, you can feel the momentum get going.

"So, got off to a slow start, but I'm extremely proud of how we finished."

Oregon enters Sunday at 9-over 585 on the 6,340-yard Grayhawk Golf Club, four strokes behind the Cardinal. The Ducks have an 18-shot cushion on the two teams tied for 14th place, which would be the cut line as the field is narrowed following Sunday to 15 teams for Monday's final round of stroke play.

"We're behind only Stanford and we cut our deficit in half, which was huge," Radley said. "At the turn I wasn't necessarily feeling great. But really excited with the way we finished."

How It Happened: Nielsen was the tone-setter for Oregon's mid-round charge, getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole. She then carded birdie on No. 8 and No. 9 as well to finish the front nine at 1 under.

Nielsen then played the back nine at even par, to finish 1 under for the day and even par through two rounds. For the tournament she is one of just four players in the field to play Grayhawk's par-4 holes at even or better through two rounds.

"Sofie's done an incredible job — these first two days she's just been steady Eddie," Radley said. "That's what you need in this portion of the tournament. She figured out a little something before round one with her putter, and it seems to really be clicking. This is the best I've seen her putt all year."

Nielsen's even-par score through two rounds is tied for sixth individually, just behind Lin. Oregon's only senior is 1 under for the tournament after carding three birdies with no bogeys on the back nine Saturday to finish her round at 1 under.

Chacon also was bogey free on the back nine Saturday, and she had a birdie on the par-5 11th hole — as did both Lin and Chen. Chacon and Chen were both 1 over Saturday to sit 5 over for the tournament, tied for 41st in the field.

The Ducks on Saturday didn't count the score of the recently crowned Pac-12 individual champion, Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu. She finished 4 over for the day, much of that damage coming on the par-5 seventh, where she took an eight. Lu then birdied the next two holes, playing her last 11 holes of the day at 1 under.

"It does speak to the depth of our team, that any of them can play great at any time, but I have full trust in Cynthia moving forward," Radley said. "She's frustrated, she's not happy with her performance so far — which is good. That's what great players do. She's not going to let it get to her, and be negative. So I expect things moving forward to be different."

Team Leaderboard
1. Stanford 289-292—581 (+5)
2. Oregon 297-288—585 (+9)
T3. UCLA 295-291—586 (+10)
T3. Auburn 296-290—586 (+10)
5. LSU 296-291—587 (+11)
6. Texas A&M 292-297—589 (+13)
7. Florida State 296-295—591 (+15)
T8. Arizona State 302-290—592 (+16)
T8. Southern California 298-294—592 (+16)
10. Georgia 303-291—594 (+18)

Ducks on the Leaderboard
T4. Tze-Han (Heather) Lin 72-71—143 (-1)
T6. Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen 73-71—144 (E)
T41. Briana Chacon 76-73—149 (+5)
T41. Ching-Tzu Chen 76-73—149 (+5)
T69. Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu 76-76—152 (+8)

What It Means: Coming off a frustrating opening round Friday and looking to score Saturday morning, the Ducks might have been a little overaggressive on their opening holes. But they showed poise at the turn by making an adjustment and moving up the leaderboard.

"There were some hole locations that you really couldn't attack, you had to play smart," Radley said. "This golf course can be tricky at times; it seems like it's easy but you also have to play really smart. So we'll review that, and our strategy. But to be single digits over par through two rounds, I'm really proud and excited moving forward. And I love seeing that momentum on that back nine — that's the team I know and I've seen all year."

Up Next: The Ducks will play in the morning again Sunday, going off the No. 1 tee at 6:30 a.m.