TULSA, Okla. – Duke closed strong Thursday to take a six-shot lead over defending champion Southern Cal in the third round of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship at Tulsa Country Club.
The Blue Devils shot 2-under 278, matching the round by the top-
ranked Trojans. Duke is 16 over through 54 holes and USC 22 over.
Second-round leader Oklahoma struggled to a round of 11-over 291 and
is 26 over but held on to third place by a shot over UCLA.
Mississippi State is 14 shots off the pace in fifth place at 31 over.
Celine Boutier led Duke with a 3-under 67, moving into a tie for the
individual lead with Doris Chen of USC, who shot 68, at 3 under. Tied
for third at even par are Chonlada Chayunun of Iowa State, Alysssa
Ferrell of Michigan State and Lauren Kim of Stanford.
The Blue Devils were at 19-over before their four counting players
made a combined five birdies over the final four holes. Yu Liu shot
68, Alejandra Cangrejo 71, Latitia Beck 72 and Sandy Choi 74. The top
four of five scores count for the team total.
"I was watching on 14 and we made several bogeys there and I knew USC
was closing in," said Duke coach Dan Brooks, who will be trying to
coach his squad to its sixth national championship including
1999 in a hail-shortened event at TCC. "We made some good birdies on
the closing holes that were big for us.
"The girls played very well today," Brooks said. "The wind blew again,
but it was a little more predictable and not as gusty. They stayed
patient. We had our share of mistakes and some went in the water, but
they recovered emotionally and it was great."
In addition to Chen’s 68, USC counted a six-birdie round of 67 by
Kyung Kim, even-par 70 from Sophia Popov and 73 from Karen Chung.
Defending NCAA champion Annie Park shot 76.
Instead of giving her squad a pep talk, USC coach Andrea Gaston sent
her team out to individual dinners with their families Wednesday night
to seek inspiration on their own. USC began the round in a three-way
tie for fourth, nine shots behind Oklahoma.
"We knew they would fuel their own fire after yesterday," Gaston said.
"There was really nothing more we could say. They would have to figure
Both Gaston and Brooks admitted to keeping one eye on the other’s
teams scores throughout the afternoon, knowing the two powerhouse
squads would likely be head-to-head in the final round. Duke has won
titles in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. USC won in 2003,
2008 and 2013.
"I knew they were lurking back there," Brooks said. "They just took their time. They are a really great team and have a lot of talent and drive in their players. We have to get after it tomorrow."
Oklahoma, which has never won, made it into the final pairing thanks
to a gutty 71 by Kaitlyn Rohrback, who was 4 over after a double bogey
on the treacherous sixth hole, but made four birdies against one bogey
coming in. 2012 individual champion Chirapat Jao- Javanil also shot
71. Second-round individual leader Alexandra Kaui had a triple on the
par-5 third hole and a quadruple bogey seven on the sixth to shoot 80
and fall into a tie for 16th.
"We’ve got 18 holes to play and anything can happen," said OU coach
Veronique Drouin-Littrell. "We kind of had a tough day today.
Alexandra is a freshman and I’m sure she’s mad now but she’ll bounce
back and be ready to contribute tomorrow."
The third round leader has gone on to win 25 times in the 32 years of