East: Alabama builds convincing lead
Team leader: Alabama (22-under 554).
Individual leader: Stephanie Meadow, Alabama (10-under 134).
In position: 2: Tulane (568). T-3: Arkansas (577), Oklahoma State (577) 5: Texas (580). 6: North Carolina (582). 7: Auburn (583). T-8: UCLA (586), Tennessee (586).
Chasing: 10. Northwestern (590) 11. Notre Dame (596) 12. Kentucky (597).
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Still rolling: At this point in the East Regional, it’s not a matter of who, but how many. Alabama leads by 14 strokes over Tulane after two rounds with a 22-under 554 total.
“It’s a matter continuing our momentum,” said head coach Mic Potter, who looked at live scoring only to see how low they could go.
“There’s a standard of excellence that we want to play to.”
For excellence, look no further than Stephanie Meadow, the SEC winner who leads teammates Emma Talley and Jennifer Kirby by four strokes. Meadow’s 10-under total ties a school record for 36 holes.
Meadow credits some of her success to a new putter she put in the bag right after winning SECs. The Odyssey Versa 2-Ball markings helped improve Meadow’s alignment, and the insert provided added feel.
The British Amateur champ also credits her work with mental gurus Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott at Vision54, which she started in January. The big takeaway: Releasing tension in her shoulders and upper body.
“Something I really had no idea I did,” said Meadow.
While this is Meadow’s best ball-striking year to date, she was winless so far this season until the conference championship. Her stroke average going into this week’s event was 1.44 strokes lower than last year.
“The great thing about her is that she doesn’t let it effect her preparation or her personality,” said Potter.
As Meadow said, a lot of winning is luck.
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Hooked on success: For a while, Texas’ Madison Pressel – younger sister of Morgan – found herself on top of the leaderboard here in Auburn. A couple of wayward drives, however, dropped her to 1 under par for the day and T-7 in the standings. Texas coach Martha Richards praised Pressel for looking back at old photos of when she played some of her best golf for tips going forward. Pressel noticed she used a center-shafted putter back then, and put one back in play late last month.
“She’s one of the few kids who are self-reflective and self-analytical, in a good way,” said Richards.
Texas stands in fifth place after the second round. The 8th-seeded Longhorns have advanced to the NCAA Championship in five of their last six regionals appearances.
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Short shots: Tulane heads into the final round in second place. They finished a school-best fifth at the NCAA East Regional in 2009. . . . Tough day for third-seeded UCLA, with a 10-over 298. The Bruins won their last two regional appearances. They’ve advanced to the NCAA Championship the last 12 years. . . . Host Auburn turned in its best round of the year when it counted. The Tigers’ 4-under 284 vaulted them into seventh place. An inspired and emotional Auburn team is playing without veteran coach Kim Evans at the helm. Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer earlier in the week.