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AUBURN, Alabama–After a strong start and less impressive finish the Auburn women’s golf team still managed to make a substantial move on day two at their own NCAA regional tournament.
Tigers move up two spots at Auburn NCAA Womens Golf Regional
The Tigers moved up two spots on Tuesday with a two-over-par round of 290, nine strokes better than their opening day score on Monday. Only the top six teams in the 18-team field will advance to the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
Auburn is tied with Tennessee for sixth place after 36 holes of competition at the par 72 Saugahatchee Country Club Course. East Carolina is in fifth place, three shots ahead of the Tigers and Tennessee.
Auburn was four-under-par after nine holes with 11 birdies, but on the back nine the Tigers finished with four birdies, 11 bogeys and one double bogey.
“It was obviously better,” said Auburn’s head coach, Melissa Luellen, when asked for her take on round two. “We made more birdies in the first five holes than we did all day yesterday (four) so that was good to see.
“It was good to see some putts drop and know they can make birdies–it just breeds confidence,” the coach said. “It was not a very good finish. On the 16th hole we just threw away shots. We had a couple of unlucky lies, but they hit poor shots to get to where they were. It kind of compounded. I hate to see one bad shot followed by another bad shot.”
Elena Hualde, a junior from Pamplona, Spain, led the Tigers on Tuesday with a one-under-par 71 that featured four birdies with three bogeys.
“I am really happy with my ball striking from today,” Hualde said. “It was a lot better than yesterday. I hit 15 greens, which made a big difference in my score. It made it easier to play out there.”
Hualde, who shot a 75 on Monday, said the team played much better on day two, but there is still room for improvement. “We can do a lot better. We can all shoot under par here. We have been playing here for four months already so hopefully tomorrow is the day.”
Brooke Sansom, a freshman from Pike Road, shot 72 as did Kaleigh Telfer, a sophomore from Kyalami, South Africa. Auburn’s other round that counted was a three-over-par 75 from Julie McCarthy, a sophomore from Swords, Ireland.
“Today was a lot better than yesterday,” Sansom said. “I made a few more putts than yesterday and hit a few more greens and that is always a key, especially on this course.”
Asked about what will be important for for the Tigers to have a successful finish to the tournament on Wednesday, Sansom said, “We just need to go out and do what we do best–not think too hard, swing and it see what happens.”
Mychael O’Berry, who led the Tigers in round one with a 74, slumped to a 77 on Tuesday so the Tigers did not count that score.
Duke, the top-ranked team in the field at No. 3 nationally, moved ahead of Vandy to take the team lead at one-over-par, two shots ahead of Virginia and three ahead of Florida State and Vanderbilt.
“I am super proud of their fight,” Luellen said of her team. “Elena played really solidly. Brooke play solid. Kaleigh Telfer was playing really good for a while. Julie actually is hitting the ball well, but has a little balky putter. It was good to see her make a birdie on 15th and 17th to get a little confidence coming in.”
Luellen said conditions were ideal for scoring on Tuesday and noted it should be more challenging on Wednesday because more wind is forecast. “I think tomorrow should be a very interesting day,” the coach said. “We are looking forward to it.”