Alabama stretches lead to 11 strokes on Day 2 of women's NCAA finals

Brooke Pancake at the wlomen's NCAA finals
University of Alabama
Crimson Tide senior Brooke Pancake shot a 2-under 70 on Wednesday to top the individual leaderboard after 36 holes in Tennessee.
By
Teresa Walker
Associated Press

Series: Other Tour

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Alabama grabbed an 11-stroke lead, and Crimson Tide senior Brooke Pancake shot a 2-under 70 on Wednesday to top the individual leaderboard after the second round of the NCAA Division I women's golf championship.

The Crimson Tide had a two-stroke lead after the first round at the Vanderbilt Legends Club, and shot a 3-under 285 in the second to reach 5-under 571. Defending champion UCLA, North Carolina and Virginia were tied for second at 6 over.

WOMEN'S FINALS

For complete coverage of the NCAA Division I Women's Finals, go to NCAA.com.

Pancake had a 6-under 138 total. Arizona State's Giulia Molinaro was 4 under after a 71, and South Carolina's Katie Burnett shot a 67 to join North Carolina State's Brittany Marchand and Virginia's Portland Rosen at 3 under.

Host Vanderbilt jumped from a tie for 22nd to 10th at 14 over.

The Crimson Tide turned in a second strong round with Pancake leading the way. Hannah Collier and Jennifer Kirby shot 71, and Stephanie Meadow had a 73. Meadow had a lone double bogey in the second round on No. 17 and bounced back with a birdie on No. 18.

''The idea is to stay consistent,'' Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. ''I think we've had one double bogey in 36 holes, so avoiding big mistakes and taking the birdies where they present themselves is the key. We did a pretty good job. You're going to make some bogeys because it's just so hard to get up close to some of the holes. You're going to end up on the short side. You're going to three-putt, and you have to take advantage when you have the opportunity.''

For Alabama, it's a big change from entering the 2011 NCAA championship as a favorite only to stumble so much in the first two rounds the Tide trailed eventual national champ UCLA by 20 strokes before rallying to tie for eighth.

This year is just the program's seventh NCAA championship with a team ranked second nationally by both Golfweek and Golf World. Pancake is ranked seventh nationally followed by Meadow at eight and Kirby at nine. Alabama also played in seven AIAW national championships with the program's best finish a third at the 2010 NCAA championship.

''You have to learn by being there to handle expectations,'' Potter said. ''And going in last year as one of the favorites I think I hate to admit it but for an Alabama program that had never been there, it's something you have to go through ... We may have needed that at that point. Who knows? But all you can do is just learn from it and get better and go on.''

Pancake, a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team, also is a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., who learned how to play golf at the North Course at the Golf House of Tennessee, the state's youth golf headquarters. So she has had plenty of family and friends coming out to cheer her on, and likes her position after the good start.

''Very much so,'' Pancake said. ''Totally putting myself in a good place for the next two days.''

Pancake carded three birdies with a lone bogey and just missed an 8-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th She said a key here is putting better after struggling with that the last couple months.

''When I get comfortable over my putts, it doesn't matter how well I'm hitting it or not I have that confidence that I can get up and down,'' Pancake said. ''If I have a bad hole, I'm like, 'OK, there's more birdies out there.' That's what I've been trying to kind of stick to the last two days, and hopefully for the next two days because this is a long tournament.''