West: LSU, Stanford battle for top spot
Top team: Stanford (580)
Top individual: Catherine O’Donnell (North Carolina)
In position: 2. LSU (581), T-3. North Carolina, UCLA (586), 5. Baylor (593), 6. Texas Tech (594), 7. Pepperdine (596), 8. California (597
Chasing: T-9. Colorado, Illinois (598), T-11. Tulsa, UC Davis, San Jose State (600)
Not without a fight: LSU made itself a factor Friday at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, Colo. The Tigers had the lead before Stanford leapfrogged them at the end of the day. The Cardinal will take a one-shot lead into the final round.
LSU sophomore Austin Ernst shot 3-under 69, a tie for the low round of the day, to lead the Tigers. Ernst already has NCAA Championship hardware after winning last year’s season-ending tournament, but is missing a regional crown.
If the team earns a spot in the national championship, it would be the third time in the last four years that LSU has reached the finals. The Tigers finished second at regionals last year, behind UCLA, and finished a program-best third at the NCAA Championship.
“The girls are in a good place mentally,” head coach Karen Bahnsen said after the first round. “I feel good with our situation.”
Another catch-up: Like in the first round, when the dust had cleared Friday at Colorado National, Stanford was in the lead. The Cardinal played steady on Friday, overtaking LSU at the end of the day much like it had North Carolina on Thursday.
Sydney Burlison continues to lead Stanford, backing up a first-round 67 (her career low) with a 74 that left her third individually. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because Burlison, a senior, has been sidelined for much of the season with an injury.
Sally Watson is in fourth right behind Burlison after back-to-back rounds of 71.
Short shots: North Carolina’s Catherine O’Donnell played her way into the individual lead on Friday with a second-round 69. She is at 5-under 139 for the tournament. . . . Host team Colorado will have some work to do when it returns to Colorado National on Saturday. The Buffs will need to find their way into the top 8 if they want to qualify for their first national championship in program history. California, fresh off a Pac-12 victory, also is teetering on the bubble. The Golden Bears currently are in the eighth position.