HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The Vanderbilt women’s golf squad, anchored by sophomore standout Auston Kim, improved three positions in the team rankings at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head Saturday.
The Commodores fired an 8-over-par 292 in the second round. With a 10-stroke improvement over its first-round performance, Vanderbilt will enter the final round Sunday in a seventh-place tie with defending NCAA champion Duke. The Commodores and Blue Devils are just two strokes off the score of fourth-place Auburn.
Kim moved into contention for medalist honors after firing a second straight 1-over-par 72. With a two-day total of 144, Kim is just two strokes behind second-round leader Emilia Migliaccio of Wake Forest. Kim will be gunning for her third tournament title as a Commodore.
Junior Louise Yu also enters Sunday’s third round looking to achieve a top-20 individual finish. She is currently in a tie for 18th with a two-day 5-over-par 147, after a 4-over-par 75 on Saturday.
Stronger play by junior Morgan Baxendale and senior Abbey Carlson helped the Commodores improve in the team competition. Baxendale posted the Commodores’ low round of the tournament, an even-par 71. Carlson improved four strokes off her opening round with a 3-over-par 74.
Head coach Greg Allen is looking forward to seeing his Vanderbilt student-athletes compete on Sunday. The Commodores are looking to earn back-to-back top-5 finishes at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate for the first time since 2013-14.
“I thought we did a much better job today of handling the wind. That allowed us to get off to a fast start on what I think is the toughest nine (at Long Cove Club),” Allen said. “I’m very encouraged that we saw signs today of what we know we’re capable of doing.
“I like how Mo (Baxendale) and Abbey bounced back. Auston is playing steady golf and it’s nice to see her hard work paying off. We’re excited about tomorrow’s opportunity.”
Early Saturday, Kim appeared on the cusp of going low with three quick birdies over her first seven holes. The product of St. Augustine, Florida, couldn’t keep up the pace, managing just one more birdie over her last 11 holes.
Yu, from Duluth, Georgia, also started impressively with two birdies over her first six holes, but she closed the next 12 holes without another birdie in the round of 75.
Baxendale rebounded in superb fashion from an opening-round 81. Baxendale of Orlando, Florida, made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, then posted a late birdie on the par-3 No. 8 to conclude an even-par 71. The solid performance allowed Baxendale to soar 37 spots in the medalist standings. She will enter the final round in a tie for 45th.
Carlson, from Lake Mary, Florida, fought to post a 3-over-par 73. After opening with two double bogeys, Carlson kept the round manageable with three birdies. Carlson is tied with Baxendale in 45th place.
A fifth Vanderbilt participant, freshman Tess Davenport struggled for the second consecutive day. The only Commodore playing Long Cove Club for the first time registered an 84 in the second round. She is tied for 86th in the field.
The Commodores will be paired with Duke and LSU in the final round Sunday. They will tee off on No. 1 starting at 7 a.m. CT.
Darius Rucker Intercollegiate
Pete Dye Course, Long Cove Club
Day 2 Results
T-7. Vanderbilt +26 302-292=594
T-7. Auston Kim +2 72-72=144
T-18. Louise Yu +5 72-75=147
T-45. Morgan Baxendale +10 81-71=152
T-45. Abbey Carlson +10 78-74=152
T-86. Tess Davenport +22 80-84=164