Franklin, TN -
Despite experiencing its poorest score during the first 54 holes of play, the 27th-ranked Virginia women's golf team will enter Friday's final round of play at the NCAA Championships tied for third place. The Cavaliers shot 13-over 301 Thursday at Vanderbilt's Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., after opening with rounds of 288 and 294.
UVa enters Friday's final round with a three-day total of 19-over 883. Alabama, which started the second round with an 11-shot lead, remains at the top of the 24-team leaderboard, but with much of that cushion gone. The second-ranked Crimson Tide shot 18-over 306 Thursday for a total score of 877. USC, ranked third, is just two shots behind the frontrunners.
Purdue and South Carolina are tied with the Cavaliers for third place. LSU is in sixth place at 884 and North Carolina is seventh at 885.
"If you had asked me before we had gotten here I would say I would be thrilled to be doing that (top three) going into the last day," said Virginia head coach Kim Lewellen. "Saying that, this team is a strong team and they can play this course well. I think we are in position to play well tomorrow and finish in that final four if not beat our fourth-place finish from last year."
Virginia sophomore Portland Rosen shot 2-over 74 during the third round and is tied for fifth place in stroke play at 1-under 215. Oklahoma's Chirapat Jao-Javanil and Arizona State's Giulia Molinaro share the lead at 4-under 212.
The Cavaliers were led Thursday by freshman Briana Mao who carded a score of even par 72. Mao used an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole to move to 2-under and stood at 3-under after a birdie on the par-4 15th hole. She then posted a bogey and double bogey on the No. 16 and No. 17 holes to finish the day at even par. She is the third different UVa player to lead the team in scoring during the tournament.
Mao was not the only Cavalier who struggled down the stretch.
Rosen sandwiched two birdies between three bogeys during her final five holes. Elizabeth Brightwell had four bogeys over her final five holes to shoot 3-over 75 and Brittany Altomare had bogeys in three of her last four holes to shoot 8-over 80. Lauren Greenlief was UVa's non-counting player at 10-over 82.
Altomare and Mao are tied for 40th at 8-over 224 while Greenlief is 71st at 228. Brightwell is not eligible from the individual title after signing an incorrect scorecard after the first round.
Lewellen feels the Cavaliers can rally for a strong showing in the final round.
"I think you need to be very patient out here," Lewellen said. "If you get a bogey you can't let it bother you. You need to just forget about it and go to the next hole. You're going to get bogeys out here. The greens are firm so you are going to be chipping and putting a lot. I think if we are patient, then we can climb up that leaderboard."
The Cavaliers will tee off starting at 11:50 a.m. CT Friday from the first tee while paired with LSU and South Carolina. Live scoring of the tournament is online at Golfstat.com. A free webcast of the tournament's No. 9 and No. 18 holes will be online at NCAA.com starting at noon CT.
2012 NCAA Championships
Vanderbilt Legends Club - North Course
Par-72, 6,377 yards
Third Round Results
1. Alabama 286-285-306-877
2. USC 297-288-294-879
3. Purdue 293-295-295-883
3. South Carolina 302-281-300-883
3. Virginia 288-294-301-883
6. LSU 293-294-297-884
7. North Carolina 290-292-303-885
8. Arizona State 292-291-304-887
9. UCLA 292-290-306-888
9. Oklahoma 294-299-295-888
11. Duke 289-302-301-892
11. Florida 302-293-297-892
13. NC State 299-294-305-898
14. Texas A&M 301-298-300-899
15. Colorado 297-298-305-900
16. Michigan State 296-311-294-901
16. Vanderbilt 306-284-311-901
18. Pepperdine 306-293-304-903
18. Baylor 299-304-300-903
20. Texas 297-295-313-905
21. Arkansas 303-301-309-913
22. Tennessee 300-307-307-914
23. Ohio State 303-307-305-915
24. Stanford 309-304-307-920
1. Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Oklahoma 69-73-70-212
1. Giulia Molinaro, Arizona State 69-71-72-212
3. Brooke Pancake, Alabama 68-70-75-213
3. Tessa Teachman, LSU 69-74-70-213
5. Katie Burnett, South Carolina 74-67-74-215
5. Portland Rosen, Virginia 66-75-74-215
7. Doris Chen, USC 75-69-72-216
5. Portland Rosen 66-75-74-215
40. Brittany Altomare 71-73-80-224
40. Briana Mao 77-75-72-224
71. Lauren Greenlief 74-72-82-228
na Elizabeth Brighwell DQ-74-75-na