Kaui, Sooners atop leaderboards at midway point in NCAA Women’s Golf Championship

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TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma freshman Alexandra Kaui eagled the par-4 15th hole on her way to a 3-under 67, taking over the individual lead and helping the Sooners maintain a three-shot advantage over Duke at the halfway point of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship at Tulsa Country Club.   OU finished at 15 over, followed by the Blue Devils at 18 over. Behind them is a Pac-10 free-for-all with Arizona State at 20 over, UCLA, Arizona and USC tied at 24 over and Stanford, which upset all those teams to win the Pac 10 championship, in seventh at plus 26. 

Kaui has a three shot lead on Lauren Kim of Stanford, who made 17 pars en route to a 1-over 71 and is 2-under, along with Allyssa Ferrell of Michigan State, who rolled in a 75-foot birdie putt on her final hole (nine) for her second consecutive 69. She helped the Spartans shoot the day’s low round of 3-over 283 and move from a tie for 16th into a tie for ninth. 

Doris Chen of USC is fourth at 1-under (67-72) while tied for fifth at even-par 140 are Celine Boutier of Duke (70-70), Manon Gidali of Arizona (73-67) and Kendall Martindale of Vanderbilt (72-68).

Kaui’s eagle with a wedge from 118 yards was huge for the seventh-ranked Sooners, champions of the Big 12 Conference.   "The front nine was pretty slow. But once I dunked one from 118 yards, I said Oh my gosh,’ " Kaui said. "Suddenly I’m two under and wanted to finish really strong."

She did that with a birdie on the 160-yard 17th hole, helping OU shoot 7-over 287 for a 36-hole total of 15-over 575. Teammats Emily Collins shot 71, Anne Tanguay 74, 2012 NCAA champion Chirapat Jao-Javanil 75 and Kaitlyn Rohrback 78. Only the top four scores count each day in the 72-hole event.
A south wind blew in gusts up to 26 mph, less breezy than the opening day and much what the Sooners are used to practicing in all spring in Norman.
"Even though it was still pretty windy, it felt like nothing to us compared to all the times we’ve practiced with winds gusting up to 40 mph, Kaui said. "I think it really helps prepare us."
Duke also handled the windy conditions well, shooting 5-over 285 to move up to second. It was a balanced effort with Celine Boutier shooting even-par 70, Sandy Choi 71, Laetitia Beck 72 and Alejandro Cangrejo 72.
"We were very patient," said Duke coach Dan Brooks. "I was proud of my team. They handled things really well. It was gustier today, so you had to do more thinking on your par-3 shots."

Arizona State is five shots back after matching the Sooners with a 7-over 287. The Sun Devils, coached by former Tulsa All-American and later coach Melissa Luellen, are seeking their first victory of the year.
"We’re playing well enough to win," Luellen said. "But there are a lot of good teams here. We all know how good USC is. But they don’t win every time. It’s going to be an interesting next 36 holes."

Top-ranked and defending champion USC improved by only two shots despite a favorable early-morning tee time and is tied for fifth at 24-over.
"I’m sure they are plenty disappointed in the way they have played," said Trojans coach Andrea Gaston. "Obviously I think we should be expecting more with all of our players. We probably are feeling a little more pressure because we are defending champions and they know how well they played last year. But you can’t really think about last year, you have to live in the moment. Sometimes a round like today may be just what they need to step it up tomorrow."
Mississippi State was one of three teams that improved by more than 20 shots in the second round. The Bulldogs got a 68 from Ally McDonald, 70 from Jessica Peng and 72 from Mary Langdon Gallaher, daughter of former PGA Tour golfer Jim Gallagher, to move up four spots into eighth place.

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Ken MacLeod

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