Top-ranked Stanford turned in the lowest second-round score of the day at the Therese Hession Regional Challenge to vault to the top of the leaderboard with 18 holes remaining on Tuesday.
The field, which features four of the top-10 teams in the nation, was faced with cool and breezy conditions again on Monday at Palos Verdes (Calif.) Golf Club and the Cardinal managed to grind out an even-par 284 to overtake Baylor and open a two-shot lead over sixth-ranked San Jose State.
Stanford's Rose Zhang
, the top-ranked female amateur in the world, carded her second consecutive 3-under round of 68 and at 6-under 136, holds a two-stroke lead over Lucia Lopez-Ortega of San Jose State and Sophie Guo
of Texas, who are both at 4-under.
of Baylor, who held the first-round lead following a brilliant 5-under 66 on Sunday, slipped to fourth place after a second-round 73 left her at 3-under for the tournament.
Zhang got off to a slow start on Monday and was 2-over after five holes but steadied her ship with birdies on holes No. 7 and 9 to get back to even on the day. Birdies on 13, 16 and 18 resulted in a second consecutive round of 68 and a two-shot lead entering the final round.
"I can't say enough about the heart and perseverance of this group," said Stanford head coach Anne Walker said following the round. "Through five, six, seven holes we were eight or nine over, and you see a lot of teams that carry that with them. We never see that from these players. They're so resilient and they never give up until the very end. I'm proud of their mindset, it was high-performance today -- I'm very proud of them today."
If the Cardinal is to win its fourth team title of the season, it must hold off Bay Area rival San Jose State, which defeated Stanford twice in head-to-head meetings last year. Behind Lopez-Ortega's 2-under 69 and a 1-under 70 by Kajsa Arwefjall
, the Spartans carded a 2-over team score of 286 and are just two back of Stanford.
Lopez-Ortega had seven birdies on her Monday card, including four over her first nine holes while Arwefjall finished her round in the red after closing with her third birdie of the day on 18.
USC is a distant third at 9-over 577.
Tuesday's final round will feature a shotgun start at 8:15 a.m. PT. The Cardinal will go off holes No. 1-5 and play with San Jose State, USC and Ohio State.
ABOUT THE Northrop Grumman Challenge
Women's college tournament started in 1996 as a
to kick off the Spring season. Team (best four scores
out of five players) and individual competitions.
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