Women's Golf Ties For Lead In SEC

The University of Alabama women's golf team fired a 6-under par 278 to move into a tie for first place Saturday at the Southeastern Conference women's golf championship at the NorthRiver Yacht Club. The Crimson Tide moved up five places to tie Vanderbilt at 3-under (565) through two rounds.

Alabama's 278 tied for the best single round in SEC Championship history and the best in Tide history. Arkansas closed out the day three strokes off the lead with a 288 (+4) in third place while Georgia fell out of first with a 291 (+7) to fall six strokes off the pace at 3-over for the tournament and into fourth.

"I was a little surprised at our start, because I really thought that we would get going faster than that," Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. "We got a little behind the eight ball, but then from eight until the end of the round we really played pretty well. We made as many eagles as we've made all year right there in two holes and so that really helped. We know the golf course we just have to keep making it easier on ourselves and using that knowledge to our advantage."

The two top teams were led by the two best individual performances of day as Vanderbilt's Marina Alex tied the SEC Championship record with a 6-under par 65. Alabama's Brooke Pancake finished one stroke behind with a 66, the second-lowest round in SEC Championship history and the second-lowest ever by an Alabama player in any event.

Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora had the third best round of the day with a 67 to tie Alex for the individual lead at 6-under-par 136 through two rounds. Pancake is tied for fourth, along with teammate Camilla Lennarth, at 2-under-par 140. Lennarth shot a 3-under-par 68 on Saturday after a 1-over 71 on Friday.

"I was just really patient," Pancake said. "I knew that I had really been hitting the ball well lately, and I just let the scoring come. The main thing for me lately has been that I keep getting wrapped up in scoring well, and it just wasn't happening. Today, though, after making a few putts the confidence just came up and got me thinking, ‘This could be good.'"

The highlight of the round was an eagle-2 on the 14th hole that catapulted her and the Crimson Tide up the leaderboard.

"I couldn't even see the top of the pin because I had hit my drive on the right side of the fairway, which is really where you don't want to be on that hole because a tree comes into play," Pancake said. "So I hit a punch-cut under the tree and after I hit it I thought that it was going to be good, probably even on the green. Then I heard my family scream and saw my grandfather jump up, and I'd never seen him ever do that before, so I figured it out. That was really exciting."

Lennarth's round was also punctuated with an eagle on the 248-yard, par-4 13th hole. She drove the green and then sank the putt for a two. Her 68 tied the lowest round of her career; it is the fifth time she has shot 68 at Alabama.

"I felt good out there; I was hitting it well," Lennarth said. "I didn't give myself that many opportunities on the front nine, but I made a good birdie on the ninth. That's when it started going for me. I birdied 10 and had couple of good chances in the next couple of holes. When I eagled 13 by tapping in on that short par-4, I was thinking that I was really on a roll. "

Two Alabama seniors proved to be vital for the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Rhea Nair rallied from a 78 on Friday to post a 1-over-par 72 on Saturday and Helena Blomberg followed her even-par 71 with a 1-over-72. Blomberg is tied for 16th at 1-over-par 143 while Nair is tied for 37th. Freshman Jennifer Kirby shot 4-over-75 in round two, but played even par on the final 15 holes after back-to-back double bogeys on No. 2 and 3.

The Crimson Tide enter Sunday's final round in search of their first Southeastern Conference Championship. Alabama has finished runner-up on three occasions, including a tie for second last season.

"I think we just need to stay in the same frame of mind and continue to be as aggressive as we were when we finished off the round today," Potter said. "If we do that and someone beats us then there really isn't a whole lot you can say about that, but if we get defensive or tentative it could get us into some trouble."

The final round of the SEC Championship begins Sunday with the first pairings teeing off at 8:30 a.m. at the NorthRiver Yacht Club. The Crimson Tide, in the final pairing of the day, will tee off No. 1 beginning at 9:20 a.m.

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