HOOVER, Ala. – The Vanderbilt women’s golf squad improved eight strokes off its opening-round performance on Thursday, and moved up to sixth in the team standings at the SEC Championships.
The Commodores posted a second-round total of even-par 288 to jump Mississippi State in the standings. Vanderbilt’s total was the fifth-lowest score of the second-day action at the SEC Championships, being contested at the Greystone Golf and Country Club.
On Friday, Greg Allen‘s Commodores will play a final round of stroke play, looking to advance for a second straight year into the tournament’s match-play quarterfinals, which start early Saturday. The eight teams with the lowest scores after Friday’s round will move into match play.
Sophomore Louise Yu paced a solid team performance for the Commodores on Thursday, firing a 1-under 71. Junior Abbey Carlson and freshman Auston Kim provided strong support shooting even-par 72. Senior Courtney Zeng was the fourth Commodore to score with a 1-over 73.
Amazingly, the four top Commodores combined for 18 birdies during the round. Kim paced her teammates by making six birdies, including a pair coming on chip-ins.
The Commodores are in a position to advance to match play without having a single player in contention for medalist honors. Carlson is the low Commodore through two rounds, tied for 21st place with a 36-hole total of 2-over 146.
After watching his team improve significantly on its opening-round score, Allen wants to see the Commodores perform well on Friday, and advance into match play with plenty of confidence. He also expects a harder venue on Friday due to forecasts of strong overnight storms.
“I was really proud of the fight out there,” Allen said. “Court (Zeng) got us off to a great start and everybody did a good job of hanging in there through the round. Auston didn’t hit it particularly well but chipped in three times. We just had a lot of grit today.
“We’re right where we need to be for tomorrow. Sounds like we’ll have much cooler temperatures (on Friday) after a big storm comes through tonight, so I expect the course to play tougher. I believe our girls will be ready for the challenge. We know the other teams aren’t going to give us that Saturday tee time. The girls have the right mindset and I can’t wait to watch them perform.”
Yu was consistent throughout the second round, making three birdies and three bogeys through 15 holes. She capped the round in fine fashion, making a birdie on the par-5 18th hole.
Kim utilized a hot wedge and timely putter to recover from being 3-over through 12 holes. She finished the round with birdies on No. 13, No. 14 and No. 18 to reach even-par.
Carlson also battled through the day, making four birdies en route to a 72. The long-hitting Carlson failed to take advantage of the par-5s at Greystone, playing the four holes in even-par.
Zeng started the round sensationally, reaching 4-under through 11 holes, before settling for a 1-over 73.
Sophomore Morgan Baxendale struggled to an 82 after posting the Commodores’ lowest score on Wednesday.
The Commodores will be paired with Georgia (fourth place) and Auburn (fifth place) on Friday.
Team Results – Second Round (Stroke Play)