Weather approaches at Blessings Golf Club (AGC photo)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The severe weather system that passed over Blessings Golf Club on Saturday afternoon came with considerable build-up. Tournament officials called players off the course two hours before the storm set in. Concerns about evacuating players and spectators on such a sprawling layout prompted officials to halt the start of the afternoon wave. It never went off.
Only 18 players finished the second round on Saturday and half of the field never even saw the course. Play was officially called for the day around 5 p.m. and will resume Sunday morning.
Enough golf was played on Saturday, however, to see a major difference in scoring. The 132-woman field played to a 79.93 scoring average in the opening round, but the 18 players who completed Round 2 averaged 73.67.
Duke was 11 under on the second round when play was called. The Blue Devils had three holes to complete. Saturday was a big turnaround considering that Duke had been 13 over as a team on Friday. They climbed from fifth to first.
“We’re not done yet so I haven’t had a chance to talk to the team and I don’t want to talk about a lot of things until we finish,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “I’m not sure exactly why the scores are so much lower today, but they’ve learned a lot about the golf course which probably helped.”
Duke freshman Gina Kim was among the players to finish, and capped off a 3-under 70 with birdies on two of her final four holes.
“The wind was still there today but I think the morning dew helped the golfballs sit a little better on the green,” she said. “There was a small shower in the morning that softened the greens as well, so I was able to be a little more aggressive and land the ball in the spots I wanted to. That really helped us shoot low today.”
So far, every Duke player is under par.
USC’s performance was similarly impressive. The Trojans, paired with Duke, are 5 under and also have three holes to finish as a team. At 9 over for the tournament, USC trails Duke by seven.
On Sunday morning, the morning wave from Saturday will resume play at 10 a.m. and the afternoon wave will begin play from Nos. 1 and 10.
The stroke-play portion of the tournament will be shortened from 72 holes to 54 holes. All 24 teams and 12 individuals in the tournament will compete again on Monday, with the pairings for that round being determined by their 36-hole score (leaders in the afternoon wave). The field will then be cut to the top eight teams which advance to the match play quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“With the severe weather threats that we monitored throughout Saturday afternoon, our committee came to the determination that, given the conditions, shortening the tournament to three rounds of stroke play heading into match play was needed to maintain the overall student-athlete experience and the integrity of the championships,” said NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee chair Ryan Colton.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship
24 teams and 12 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
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