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Bryan, TX -
Despite shooting 12-over 300 during the second round of the NCAA Championships taking place at The Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas, the fifth-ranked Virginia women's golf team will be playing with the leaders when the second half of the tournament gets underway Friday. The Cavaliers' two-day total of 15-over 591 has the team tied with Vanderbilt for fifth place at the midway point of the tournament.
"It was one of those days where we had a few bad holes," said UVa coach Kim Lewellen. "We had a few double bogeys out there and we had to count a couple of those. The team played the other holes fantastic. It is a four-day tournament and if you have a day like this, you try to minimize the damage and keep yourself in it. I think we did that."
UCLA, ranked second, continues to lead the 24-team field at 8-over 584. The Bruins shot 7-over 295 during the second round. Purdue, the 2010 NCAA Champions, moved into second place at 587, three strokes behind UCLA.
In the race for the individual championship, LSU's Austin Ernst used a second-round 66 to take over first place at 6-under 138.
Playing in the first tee times of the day the Cavaliers got off to a slow start on their front nine holes. UVa's four scoring players combined to shoot 9-over during that stretch. Brittany Altomare, who held the first round lead at 3-under 69, had five bogeys and three birdies over her first eight holes and turned at 2-over. She played her first nine holes during the opening round at 5-under par.
"Yesterday I made my putts," said Altomare, who led the field after the first 18 holes. "Today I didn't make any putts, they just didn't fall for me. They hit the hole, but just didn't go in. You can't do anything about it if they hit the hole but don't go in."
"Brit is playing very well," Lewellen said. "A lot of putts didn't fall for her today. She hit a lot of close shots and put good rolls on her putts and was reading them well, but they seemed to just break right or just break left right at the cup. You have those putts go in tomorrow and she's right back in the hunt."
Joy Kim and Nicole Agnello were also 2-over after the first nine holes. A lost ball near the green on the first hole started Kim's round on a sour note. She had to count a double bogey to start her day. Nielson also double bogied the first hole and was at four over by her seventh hole. That's when UVa coach Kim Lewellen used a tip she picked up from renowned sports psychologist Bob Rotella, who works with the program.
"I told her, ‘Calle, if you had the tournament won, and only had one hole left to play, how would you play it,'" Lewellen said. "I guess it worked."
Nielson posted birdies on two of her next three holes and played her final 11 holes at 3-under par to finish at 1-over 73.
"The pin placements were all tough," Nielson said. "The first five or six holes were all behind bunkers. The first seven holes were rough. They were actually miserable, but that's golf."
Virginia was much better on the back nine of the course, shooting 3-over to finish the day at 12-over par. Nielson posted the team's best score at 1-over 73. Altomare shot 75 and Kim and Agnello both carded scores of 76. Freshman Portland Rosen shot 84.
Nielson and Altomare enter the third round tied for sixth at even par 144. Kim is in 49th place at 151 while Agnello is 63rd at 152. Rosen is in 122nd place at 164.
"It still feels good because none if us played very well today," Nielson said. "That means we have room for improvement and we have two more days to get after it."
"It feels great to be in the leader wave on the third day," Lewellen said. "I wish we were a little better off than we are, but we have two days and we have the potential on this team, so we'll see if we can do it."
Virginia's best showing at the NCAA Championships was an eighth-place finish in 2009 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. That year Nielson finished sixth overall on her way to earning All-America honors. This year's appearance at the NCAA Championships is the fifth in the eight-year history of the program.
Virginia tees off at 12:30 p.m. CT during the third round from the first tee. The Cavaliers will play with Vanderbilt and Texas A&M. Live scoring of the tournament is online at NCAASports.com.
The Traditions Club
Par-72, 6,260 yards
Second Round Results
1. UCLA 289-295-584
2. Purdue 292-295-587
3. LSU 292-296-588
4. Texas A&M 295-294-589
5. Vanderbilt 297-294-591
5. Virginia 291-300-591
7. Florida 294-298-592
8. California 306-292-598
8. Tennessee 299-299-598
8. North Carolina 305-293-598
11. Arizona 304-295-599
11. Arizona State 296-303-599
11. Minnesota 305-294-599
14. Arkansas 305-296-601
15. USC 302-302-604
15. Alabama 301-303-604
17. Wake Forest 298-307-605
18. Stanford 308-305-613
19. South Carolina 302-315-617
20. UC Davis 313-305-618
20. Notre Dame 308-310-618
20. Ohio State 303-315-618
23. Washington 312-307-619
24. Coastal Carolina 322-302-624
1. Austin Ernst, LSU 72-66-138
2. Numa Gulyanamitta, Purdue 71-70-141
3. Tiffany Lua, UCLA 71-71-142
3. Mia Piccio, Florida 72-70-142
3. Marta Silva Zamora, Georgia 71-71-142
6. Brittany Altomare, Virginia 69-75-144
6. Anna Leigh Keith, Vanderbilt 72-72-144
6. Joanne Lee, California 73-71-144
6. Calle Nielson, Virginia 71-73-144
6. Brittany Altomare 69-75-144
6. Calle Nielson 71-73-144
49. Joy Kim 75-76-151
63. Nicole Agnello 76-76-152
122. Portland Rosen 80-84-164