Photo: Darren Reese/Stanford Athletics
It was a birdie barrage Saturday morning at Grayhawk Golf Club. And teams who weren’t making any were left behind.
The second round of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship teed off Saturday to clear skies, virtually no wind and perfect scoring conditions. And teams like Stanford, South Carolina and Texas took advantage. The morning scoring average was 72.39, more than two shots lower than Friday.
In the afternoon? The course played tough. Only one team (Clemson) finished under par in the afternoon wave.
However, the round Stanford put together set an NCAA record for lowest round in championship history. Not bad for the top-seeded team and defending NCAA champions.
Yet it’s not the Cardinal in front with 36 holes to go, it’s the second-seeded team (and No. 1 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings).
Here’s what you need to know from the second round of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship.
• • • • •
Stanford goes record low
Starting on No. 1 Friday, Rose Zhang, Sadie Englemann and Megha Ganne each birdied the opening par 4, setting the tone for the round Stanford was embarking on.
Numerous birdies followed from every player. Englemann has five on the front nine. Kelly Xu had four. Brooke Seay, who subbed in for Rachel Heck on Saturday, had consecutive on Nos. 7 and 8. Rose Zhang added a pair herself.
By the time the team finished the back nine, the Cardinal had an NCAA record to themselves.
Stanford set a record for lowest round at an NCAA Championship, a 15-under 273 on Grayhawk’s par-72 layout. The previous record was 276, which Southern California shot in 2013 at University of Georgia Golf Course.
After Stanford’s first nine holes Friday, it was 8 over and T-24. after 36, it sits solo second and 15 under for the championship.
“I have a lot of trust and faith in these players,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They’re all very experienced. So I don’t really know what clicked for them, but I think they just settled into their groove and when they settle in, they’re relaxed. They’re really good players. So I think that’s what we’re seeing.”
Zhang, the top-ranked female amateur in the world and defending NCAA individual champion, led the Cardinal with a 5-under 67. She’s 5 under for the tournament, five shots back of Wake Forest’s Lauren Walsh in the individual competition. Xu shot 4 under. Englemann and Seay were the other counting scores at 3 under.
Top-seeded Stanford sits two shots behind Wake Forest, the No. 2 seed, after 36 holes.
“I think it’s really important not to look at the leaderboard because it really doesn’t mean anything,” Walker said. “You know, and that’s what we were just talking about that when we play regular season events. We don’t actually look at the leaderboard at the first day because it’s kind of irrelevant. Realizing that lots of golf left and wherever we sit today or whatever it looks like today doesn’t mean anything tomorrow.”
• • • • •
Wake Forest remains in front
Playing alongside Stanford, Wake Forest maintained its grip on the lead after 36 holes, shooting 8-under 280 to move to 17 under for the tournament.
And it was Lauren Walsh, the senior, who shot a second consecutive 5-under 67 to move into the individual lead after the morning wave. She had five birdies, an eagle on the par-5 seventh, and two bogeys.
Last year, Wake Forest was ranked fourth but was the first team to miss the 15-team cut heading to Monday. This year, it would take a collapse for the Demon Deacons to not tee it up Monday.
Wake Forest coach Kim Lewellen said there was motivation to not underperform like last year but to also send their two seniors, Walsh and Emilia Migliaccio, out on a better note.
“I think it’s more than we want to perform well for them so yes, there’s a little bit of motivation but more as this team is really close and they want to perform well for them,” Lewellen said.
Mimi Rhodes shot 2 under, and Migliaccio added a 1-under 71.
• • • • •
USC's Catherine Park ties NCAA record
USC’s Catherine Park had the round of her life.
The freshman tied an NCAA record for lowest round at an NCAA Championship, making birdie on her final two holes to card a 8-under 64. She tied a record set in 2010 by LSU’s Megan McChrystal.
Park had nine birdies and one bogey. She helped USC shoot 12 under in the second round, which matches the Trojans’ lowest round at an NCAA Championship.
“I am pretty happy with how I played my round today as I stayed very committed to my decisions and targets,” Park said. “I was satisfied with my putting and my wedge game. I had a very steady mindset.”
For the tournament, Park is 9 under and one shot behind Walsh’s lead.
• • • • •
More low scores
The morning wave was special with low scores, and there were more records set.
Texas and South Carolina each shot 12 under, tying the old NCAA record for a round (until Stanford broke it Saturday). Also for Texas, freshman Angela Heo shot 6-under 66, which set a Texas record for lowest round in an NCAA Championship.
For the Gamecocks, they had three eagles during the second round and four golfers in the top 25, with Mathilde Claisse at 5 under.
South Carolina sits third at 14 under and Texas is fourth at 8 under.
by Cameron Jourdan, Golfweek