Blessings or burdens? NCAA Championship course easing up as play continues

Tim Cowie

Blessings or burdens? NCAA Championship course easing up as play continues

College

Blessings or burdens? NCAA Championship course easing up as play continues

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Blessings Golf Club, host of the 2019 NCAA Div. I women’s golf championship, was more of a burden than blessing in the opening round.

There’s no secret the University of Arkansas’ home golf course is challenging, and the 24 teams and 12 individuals competing for a national championship learned that the hard way Friday, with a first round scoring average of 79.93, just a shade under 7-over par.

After only 18 players finished play on Saturday, the second round continued Sunday under far different conditions. Midway through the round, scores have dropped three strokes and change to 76.23.

LIVE SCORES: Team leaderboard | Individual
PHOTOS: See the images from the championship

“I think the committee saw the scores were high so they adjusted the pins and tees, so those little things can make a big difference,” Duke head coach Dan Brooks said while explaining the better second round scores. “The wind was less and you had a field that had competed just one day, so all of those things added together can make quite a difference.”

With two rounds under their belt, the Blue Devils hold a commanding nine-shot lead over the field at 2-over par. USC is second at 11-over, followed by Texas at 12-over. Arizona and Arkansas are T-4 at 14-over. Stanford (+20), Purdue (+22) and Northwestern (+23) round out the top eight. After Monday’s final round of stroke play the top eight teams advance to match play.

“The pin positions weren’t as difficult and I feel like we needed a couple rounds under our belt to get to know this place,” said Florida junior Sierra Brooks, who jumped to the top of the leaderboard at 4-under par after a second-round 67. “Luckily we got to play with Arkansas the first two rounds so I was able to pick up a lot which was nice. Today it’s completely different than the first two days.”

Brooks was paired with the Razorbacks’ Maria Fassi, who currently sits T-2 with Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan at 3-under. After the round, Arkansas head coach Shauna Taylor said she wasn’t surprised Brooks and Fassi were able to feed off each other.

“When you see good golf shots, it tends to breed good golf shots in others, so it was a great pairing for them,” Taylor explained.

Arkansas aside, the rest of the field is still getting familiar with the course. Thursday’s marathon of a practice round was just shy of seven hours.

NCAA Women's Arkansas

Arkansas’ Maria Fassi. Photo: Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications

“It’s like cramming for a calculus test. I don’t know how else to say it,” Texas coach Ryan Murphy said of the single practice round. “It’s so much information and you can’t figure it out in one day. You just do what you can do and try to dissect it as much as you can, say a couple prayers and go.”

Due to Saturday’s inclement weather, the stroke play segment of the tournament has been shortened from 72 to 54 holes. Stroke play will continue on Sunday and conclude on Monday. An individual champion will be crowned following Monday’s round. Tee times begin at 11:50 a.m. CT, with live coverage on Golf Channel from 3-7 p.m. CT.


     

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