Pancake Leads Tide To Big NCAA Lead

Brooke Pancake follows every golfer's dream plan. She drives into the fairway and hits it on the green. She did that well enough Wednesday to lead Alabama to an 11-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the NCAA Women's Golf Championships in Franklin, Tenn.

The second ranked Alabama team continued its impressive play with a three-under-par 285 in the second round of the 72-hold tournament on the par 72, 6,377-yard North Course at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

The Crimson Tide is at five-under-par 571 midway through the 72-hole championship event. A trio of teams -- number one ranked UCLA, North Carolina, and Virginia – are 11 shots back at six-over-par 582. South Carolina, which had the day's best round of seven-under-par 283, is at seven over and in fifth place. Arizona State is also at 7-over-par for the tournament through its second round.

The rest of the top ten has Southern Cal at plus 9, LSU at plus 11, Purdue at plus 12, and Vanderbilt (four-under-par 284 on Wednesday) at plus 14.

Alabama senior and Chattanooga, Tenn., native Brooke Pancake held the individual lead at 6-under-par 138 at the end of her second round on Wednesday. She carded a 2-under 70 in round two on the heels of her 68 on Tuesday. She is two shots clear of Giulia Molinaro of Arizona State.

Alabama Coach Mic Potter said, "Brooke hits fairways, hits greens, and when she putts well, she is going to shoot under par every time. She just does not make mistakes. The last couple of tournaments she has not putted as well as she typically does, so she has struggled a little bit. One of the hard things for great players is that they hit it close a lot, and they miss a lot of them, they think they are putting poorly. When actually they are just hitting it better than everyone else is and have a lot of chances, so it seems bad to them. Largely, I think, that is the case with her. She has been hitting 15, 16, 17 greens in a round and shoots around par and it's discouraging to her."

Alabama sophomore Stephanie Meadow is tied for sixth at two-under par 142, junior Jennifer Kirby is plus one at 145 and soph Hannah Collier plus two 146. Courtney McKim shot 77 and was the drop score to the Tide.

Kirby, Collier and Meadow all made birdie on the 18th Tuesday to give Alabama a closing push. The birdies for Kirby and Collier moved them into red numbers with 1-under-par rounds of 71.

Potter said, "I don't think I had a score in mind. Just like [Tuesday], the idea was to stay consistent. I think we have had only one double bogey in 36 holes, so avoiding big mistakes and taking the birdies where they present themselves is the key. We did a pretty good job of it – you are going to make some bogeys out there because it is just so hard to get close to some of the holes. You are going to end up on the short side. You are going to three-putt. You just have to take advantage when you have your opportunities."

Pancake said, "I very much like my positioning after two rounds. I have put myself in a good place going into the next two days."

She said, "I have been working really hard on my putting. It has been a struggle the last couple of months, but when I get comfortable over my putts, it doesn't matter how I'm hitting it, I have the confidence that I can put together a good round. That is what I have been trying to stick to the last two days and hopefully the next two days because this is a long tournament."

Alabama played an afternoon round to start the tournament Tuesday and a morning round Wednesday. Potter said, "I think it is a big advantage to be late, early. I have heard people say otherwise, but to me, when you play well, it is good to go to bed, get up early, go play and do not think about it. I thought finishing well yesterday was a huge momentum boost going into today, and they just kept moving forward."

Alabama will have an afternoon tee time on Thursday for the third round. Potter said the greens do get firmer and more difficult later in the day.

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