East: Donovan, Duke show championship drive
Lance Ringler and Asher Wildman break down all of the action from Round 2 of the NCAA Women's Regionals.
Leader: Duke (8-under 568)
Individual leaders: Katie Burnett, South Carolina; Kim Donovan, Duke; Danielle Kang, Pepperdine; Rosalyn Kim, Texas Tech (5-under 139)
The top 8: 2. Tennessee (570), 3. Pepperdine (571), 4. South Carolina (574), 5. Auburn (575), 6. Vanderbilt (579), 7. Tulane (580), 8. Florida (581)
Close behind: 9 (tie). TCU and Texas Tech (583), 11. North Carolina (586)
Got their Dukes up: The comeback of the day – and perhaps the week – belongs to Duke, which put up a 10-under 278 in Round 2 at Ironwood Country Club in Greenville, N.C.. It’s the lowest 18-hole team score the Blue Devils have shot this season.
Good timing? You bet. Duke, however, is about more than just timing. Head coach Dan Brooks said the team came into Round 2 focused and poised, and it didn’t hurt that the putts were dropping. It all led to Duke rocketing up the leaderboard from a tie for 10th into the top spot on a day when fast greens and breezy conditions sent a lot of team stumbling.
“I think one thing that happened was that they saw the scores yesterday and that I think told this group that birdies are very possible,” Brooks said. “I think that is a big part of the psychology in this whole deal. You see it happen a lot, you sort of have to be told that it’s possible and then after you see it’s possible, you do it.”
Junior Kim Donovan led the Blue Devil charge with a 4-under 68, a career best, that put her in a tie for the individual lead. Donovan hit 17 greens on her round, chipping in from 30 feet off the green at No. 6, the only green she missed all day.
“It feels wonderful,” Donovan said of being a leader for her team. “Going low is a wonderful feeling and especially right before nationals, it leaves a good taste in your mouth. It’s just thrilling.”
Staying power: Add Vanderbilt to that small list of teams that improved their position Friday. The Commodores put up 1-under 287, moving from 12th to sixth. As head coach Greg Allen sees it, his team is now in prime position to join the dogfight that could develop tomorrow as teams vie for the final four spots in the top 8.
The Commodores concentrated on upping their birdie total in Round 2, which helped them shave five shots. Allen said the team had a good talk over breakfast, and it all came down to the word of the season: perseverance. It’s especially important to this team amid news of flooding back home in Nashville, Tenn.
“We know what we could be in right now,” Allen said. “We’re very fortunate to be where we are. So many of our Vanderbilt community - the Nashville community - their lives have been turned upside down, so we’re very fortunate and so we’re just trying to make the most of this week.”
Ace high: Wake Forest freshman Michelle Shin had little excitement in her round – just one birdie and one bogey – until she got to the par-3 eighth (her 17th hole of the day). Shin aced the 195-yard hole with a choked 3-wood for the third hole-in-one of her career.
“I hit it well, and I thought it ended up short because nobody was clapping and nobody said anything,” Shin said.
The ball landed short and trickled into the hole, which left the crowd “freaking out.” It’s the second ace for Shin this season, but the first in a competitive round, and helped drop her second-round score to a 2-under 70.
Quote of the day: “Not really much to it. You find a spot and you hit it to where it goes with the speed that you want. If it goes in, it goes in. If it doesn’t, you just hit it again.” – Texas Tech senior Rosalyn Kim on her putting strategy. Kim shot 3-under 69 for a share of the individual lead.