BIRMINGHAM, AL (April 16, 2016)--Alabama (578) and Florida (578) have pulled away from the rest of the field and share the lead following the first two rounds of the SEC Women's Championship. Florida began the day six behind Alabama. The two teams at the top have opened up a 12-stroke lead on third place Texas A&M (590).
Florida is being led by individual leader junior Maria Torres (-7). Two day scores of 69-68 see Torres in front by six. In her 4-under second round Torres, a 2014 SEC All-Freshman performer, bogeyed one hole and birdied five. During the two days Torres has carded 10 birdies and just three bogeys.
Three additional Gators in the top-20 fueled the Gator run to the top. Junior Kelly Grassel (+1) is T6, freshman Samantha Wagner (+3) is T14 and sophomore Taylor Tomlinson (+5) is T20.
Alabama continued their strong play in the second round thanks to three top-5 players. Senior Emma Talley (-1) dropped a shot with a 73 but moved up a spot and is tied for second. Talley the NCAA Champion from a year ago will begin the final day six-strokes out of first place. Teammate Cheyenne Knight (-1), one of the top freshman in the SEC, moved up eight spots in the standing and is also T2.
"We played fairly well today at the beginning and the end of the round," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "However, we made some mistakes in the middle of the day that were costly. Obviously we'd like to be leading, but there are 12 other teams that would like to be in our position. We just need to go tomorrow, play our best, and see what happens."
Just a couple of strokes behind Talley and Knight is sophomore Lakareber Abe (E) who is in fifth.
-Alabama athletics contributed to this story
ROUND ONE STORY
Alabama (286) leads the SEC Championship following 18-holes of play at the Greystone Golf & Country Club. They will lead second place Florida (292) by six and third place Missouri (295) by nine when play resumes tomorrow.
Crimson Tide senior Emma Talley (-2) and sophomore Lakareber Abe (-2) are both tied for third and one back thanks to first round 70's. Tally, winner of the 2015 NCAA Championship, had it to four-under through 15 holes but gave a couple of strokes back on No. 16 and 18.
For Abe it was a more uneven scorecard. She opened on No. 1 and her first four holes went birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie. Then after a par on the fifth it was another birdie on No. 6, all part of an opening nine 3-under-par 33. On the back nine Abe bogeyed two and birdied just one.
Also scoring well for the Tide were freshman Cheyenne Knight (E) T10 and sophomore Nicole Morales (+2) T17.
“We got off to a good start and got to 8 or 9 under, I think, at one point and didn’t finish great but it’s always good to be in the lead,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. “If we can be in the lead every day, I’ll be happy.”
Two players lead in the individual chase, South Carolina sophomore Ainhoa Olarra and Florida junior Maria Torres are both 3-under-par. Olarra, a former member of the Spanish National Team, was bogey-free until her final hole and also had four birdies.
2014 All-SEC Freshman team member Maria Torres was nearly as flawless. She had one more bogey then Olarra but also one more birdie. Her final count on the day was five birdies against two bogeys.
"Today, I was just playing hole-by-hole. Heading into the weekend, I plan to stay patient, and just focus on playing golf," Maria Torres said after her round.
The overnight lead will be a small one for the duo at the top. As previously mentioned they lead by just one over a group of four players knotted in second place and another three are just two-strokes behind. A total of 14 contestants are still within four.
-Alabama and Florida athletics contributed to this story