Tide Plays Well; USC Has Big Lead
Alabama is 12 shots off the lead of No. 1 USC. Southern Cal caught fire on Wednesday with a NCAA-record 12-under-par 276 (-16, 560). Alabama was the second-lowest score in the clubhouse at 4-under 572 at mid-afternoon, but UCLA in the afternoon flight was under-par on its front nine and had equaled the Tide's score at 4-under par.
"We played a lot better today than we did yesterday," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "I don't know why, but maybe the hole locations were a bit better today and a little more accessible. We made some birdies on (No.) 4, but (No.) 3 still hurts us. We have to hit better shots on No. 3 if we're going to be any kind of a factor in this tournament."
Stephanie Meadow has the 36-hole individual lead in the clubhouse with an 8-under-par 136 after a 5-under 67 on Wednesday. She is one-stroke better than Southern California's Annie Park, who also shot 67 in round two. Park and Meadow entered the tournament ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 golfers nationally.
Meadow, a junior from Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, posted a bogey-free round to lead the Crimson Tide. Starting her day on the back nine, she made four birdies by the turn, including two straight on the 17th and 18th holes. She then carded a three on the par-4 first hole (her 10th) for a string of three straight birdies. Meadow made eight straight pars to close her round.
"Today was really solid for me," Meadow said. "I was 5-under through 10 (holes), and even though I didn't make much on the back nine, it was all around a really good day. The course played pretty similarly again today, but the heat is just the biggest difference. It's a lot easier to stay hydrated and not be as tired today, and I definitely feel better in today's round than I did yesterday."
Meadow lowered her season scoring average to 71.90, which is the lowest total in school history, bettering her own school record of 72.15 set in 2011 (1.25 strokes per round lower). She is a combined 25-strokes-under par this season. No Alabama player has ever shot under par for the season in the history of the program.
Freshman Emma Talley fired an under-par round of her own at 1-under 71. The true freshman from Princeton, Ky., got off to another slow start with back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes only to close her opening nine with three straight birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to make the turn at 1-under. A bogey on the first and third holes was offset by birdies on the fourth and seventh.
"Today was about the same as yesterday in that it started off rough, but I came back so that was a plus," Talley said following the round. "I just need to play shot-by-shot and try to do the best that I can do."
Junior Hanna Collier also carded a 1-under-par 71. The junior from Birmingham, Ala., struck the ball flawlessly on Wednesday only to see her putter fail, missing on numerous birdie chances inside 10 feet. Collier did close with an impressive birdie on the difficult ninth hole. She made four birdies and three bogeys on her round.
Senior Jennifer Kirby and sophomore Daniela Lendl both carded 3-over 75s for Alabama's final counting score. Kirby is 4-over 148 after 36 holes while Lendl is 6-over 150.
"I think I feel pretty good at this point," Potter said. "What Southern Cal shot today, we're capable of doing, but it's just a matter of coming out here and being a little more aggressive. We've got to let it go and free things up. We've got to make some putts. We're only converting those short five, six, or seven-footers, and we're not making many putts, so we've got to get a little break here and there somewhere to get back in the ballgame. We've shot 10-under here before, so we're fully capable of putting a low round up there."
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