BRYAN, Texas – The tournament leaders were forced to finish the third round of the women’s NCAA Championship early this morning after a delay slowed play yesterday. UCLA maintained its cushion and holds a 7-shot lead over the defending champion Purdue with one round to go. The Bruins have led after each round here at the Traditions Club at Texas A&M and will be looking to claim their third women’s golf title in program history.
But later this afternoon, when the final pairing of UCLA, Purdue and Virginia sets out for the last round they are going to see different conditions than they have seen previously this week.
Overnight the Traditions Club was greeted with 2.15 inches of rain rain, changing the way the par-72, 6,260-yard layout is playing.
“The course was pretty soft this morning, tee shots were not releasing,” UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said. “There are a few longer approaches, but on the upside the greens are softer too.”
UCLA may have a 7-stroke advantage, but Purdue may have the edge with a softer golf course today. The Boilermakers are the longer-hitting team and that could play a role if Purdue is to win a second consecutive championship.
“No question it helps us, but the bigger question is how hungry are our girls? They had the championship last year and you would think they want to do that again and I hope they do,” Purdue coach Devon Brouse said.
Forsyth acknowledged length may not be her team’s strength, but also points to the afternoon wind being a factor as well.
“We are not super long. If the wind stays down it’s still going to be easier conditions than it has been. If it starts to blow really hard and it’s wet, it can be challenge,” Forsyth said.
The role is reversed this year for the Boilermakers. Last year Brouse’s squad was the team with a 7-shot cushion heading into the final round. The difference this year is the opponent is UCLA, not USC.
Brouse remembers what can happen to the team in the lead if the scores draw closer together.
“I can tell you first-hand that when USC got the margin down to a couple strokes it was a little nerve-wracking out there,” Brouse said of last year’s final round. “A lot of funny things can happen and I would not be a bit surprised if they could happen this year.”
Purdue held off a USC charge last year to win its first women’s golf national championship by a single stroke.
Forsyth was not too worried about the amount of rain and her Bruins were loose as they arrived to the course.
“The girls are hitting really well. I feel pretty good about their abilities to get it done regardless of the condition,” Forsyth said.