Central: USC extends lead; Vandy makes up ground
Top team: USC (290)
Top individual: Lisa McCloskey (USC)
In position: 2. Vanderbilt (600), 3. Virginia (605), T-4. Purdue, Oregon (608), 6. Auburn (610), 7. North Carolina State (611), 8. Ohio State (612)
Chasing: 9. Tennessee (614), 10. Florida State (615), 11. Georgia (617), Arkansas (618)
Listen up, girls: Head coach Andrea Gaston watched her team build a one-shot lead Thursday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio, before making this statement: “Hopefully we’ll separate ourselves even more tomorrow.”
It appears the Trojans were listening.
USC grew its lead to 12 on Friday, and will enter Saturday’s final round with Vanderbilt as its closest pursuer. The Trojans got a major boost from senior Lisa McCloskey and sophomore Sophia Popov, who fired rounds of 4-under 68. McCloskey holds the individual lead by two shots while Popov is solo fifth. Freshman Doris Chen is in 12th position after backing up a first-round 72 with 77.
USC, the top seed in the Central Region and third in Golfweek’s rankings, is chasing an NCAA-leading eighth regional title.
Moving day: The Vanderbilt team bus was a site to behold Friday morning. That’s because the Commodores had a late tee time for Round 2, thus leaving time for a team tradition.
“We always find a Cracker Barrel and have breakfast,” head coach Greg Allen explained. “Today we rolled into the course’s parking lot and we just sat on the bus and sang and laughed for 15 minutes. We got off the bus, went through our warm-up and we were ready.”
Vanderbilt should keep said tradition around because the team climbed from a three-way tie for eighth after Round 1 to second place on the leaderboard after Round 2. Lauren Stratton finished with three consecutive birdies for a 4-under 68 and first-round leader Marina Alex returned a 73 on Friday.
Needless to say, Allen was pleased.
“We had fun today,” Allen said. “This is the team I thought we’d see. The pin placements were difficult but we played with such confidence, staying in the moment and within our process, that we didn’t let those pins affect us too much.”
Short shots: While Vanderbilt moved up the leaderboard, Georgia moved in the opposite direction, adding 19 shots to its first-round score to drop to a tie for 11th. Notre Dame also moved in the wrong direction, dropping from fourth to 13th. . . . Florida State’s Maria Salinas narrowly missed advancing to last year’s NCAA Championship as an individual with a playoff loss to Michigan State’s Caroline Powers at the East Regional. Seems as if Salinas might be using it as motivation this year: The senior is tied for second on the individual leaderboard with rounds of 71-72. Florida State is 10th.