Athens Regional: Top-seeded Alabama leads, host Georgia outside cut heading into final round

Tracy Wilcox/Golfweek

Athens Regional: Top-seeded Alabama leads, host Georgia outside cut heading into final round

Women

Athens Regional: Top-seeded Alabama leads, host Georgia outside cut heading into final round

Leaderboard

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TOP TEAM: Alabama (3-under 573)

TOP INDIVIDUAL: Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest (6-under 138)

IN POSITION: Baylor (578), Michigan State (581), Clemson (586), Northwestern (588), Tennessee (588)

CHASING: Georgia (592), Arizona (595), Augusta (596), North Carolina (599)

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TIDE ROLLS TO THE TOP: A day after a 14 seed (Michigan State) led, things returned more to the norm. Top-seeded Alabama fired a 4-under 284 to move from five behind to five ahead. The Crimson Tide have been one of the nation’s top teams all season, notching three wins and four seconds. Sophomore Cheyenne Knight has led the way with two wins and a No. 3 ranking. Knight is tied for sixth at 2 under (71-71). It’s a different sophomore who’s pacing the Crimson Tide, as Lauren Stephenson shoots 70 to stay in second at 5 under. Freshman Kristen Gillman (73-70) is tied for ninth at 1 under. Senior Mia Landegren (76-73) is 5 over and T-34 while junior Lakareber Abe (80-74) is 10 over and T-64.

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CLEMSON ROCKETS INTO POSITION FOR FIRST NCAAS APPEARANCE: The football team made history this year with its first national title since the 1981 season. The women’s golf squad would make history just by getting to the NCAA Championship. Clemson formed a women’s golf team that didn’t officially start play until 2013, but the Tigers have not yet made it to nationals. That might change Wednesday. Clemson fired a 6-under 282, tied for round of the day, Tuesday to jump seven spots to solo fourth at 10 over (top six teams advance). The Tigers are the 10 seed in Athens but had shown strides – specifically the program’s first victory in its history at February’s UCF Challenge – under first-year coach Kelley Hester (the veteran was Furman’s head coach until moving on to Clemson in 2016-17). All four Golfweek experts picked the Tigers to advance despite their seeding.

All of Clemson’s counting scores Tuesday were at par or better. Freshman Ana Paula Valdes posted a 3-under 69 to shoot Clemson’s best second-round score and jump 37 spots to T-30 at 4 over. Alice Hewson, a sophomore, leads the way for the week overall in a tie for third at 3 under (69-72). Freshman Kennedy Swann shot 70 to also sit T-30. Junior Sydney Legacy (71) is T-34 at 5 over.

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SHORT SHOTS: An interesting connection: Stephenson, who might win this regional, transferred to Alabama from … Clemson! In fact, Stephenson played at the 2016 NCAA Championship as an individual, becoming the first Tigers player to reach nationals. … Jennifer Kupcho retains a one-shot lead at 6 under, but her sixth-seeded Wake Forest squad is 15th at 34 over. … Baylor sits second at 2 over thanks to a 6-under second round. Amy Lee (T-3, 3 under) is the top scorer for the Bears – a 5 seed that finished runner-up at the 2015 NCAA Championship. … Michigan State dropped to third at 5 over but the 14 seed is still in fine position to advance, with Sarah Burnham and Katie Sharp leading the charge in a tie for sixth at 2 under. … Third-seeded Northwestern and eighth-seeded Tennessee are tied for fifth at 12 over. With the top six teams advancing, those are the final two spots for now. … Host Georgia, the No. 2 seed, is in trouble. The Bulldogs are seventh at 16 over. That puts them four back of a spot to advance heading into the final 18. … Fourth-seeded Arizona is eighth at 19 over.

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