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As Lucie Charbonnier eyed a 9-foot putt for birdie on her 18th hole – she started on the 10th hole – at Union League Liberty Hill on Tuesday, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi golf coach Pat Stephens signaled toward a group of spectators behind the green. He summoned Reagan Gray, a freshman who had just completed her round and was waiting for her teammates to finish.
Gray went down to the green where Charbonnier and Stephens were standing and whispered something in the coach’s ear. Stephens then whispered to Charbonnier, who promptly drained the putt to complete a special round that began in disaster.
Charbonnier’s clutch downhill birdie broke more than it looked and capped a 1-under par 71 to claim a 1-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Women’s Team Division of the 2022 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship.
Charbonnier stands 7 over after 36 holes, one shot clear of Nattavadee Khunsri of Delaware State, who shot a 2-over 73 in Round 2 and is 8 over. Anna-Ferreyra-Heit of Delaware State is third at 9 over after shooting 73.
The PWCC, sponsored by PGA WORKS, Comcast, The Union League of Philadelphia and Bank of America, is in its 35th year and features more than 30 teams representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions from across the nation.
Stephens gave Gray credit for the read on Charbonnier’s birdie at 18. It not only gave Charbonnier the individual lead in her division, but it also added to defending champion Corpus Christi’s dominating team performance. It is a combined 38 over par, 16 shots better than Delaware State.
“She had a putt earlier from behind the hole and she missed,” Stephens said of Gray. “Lucie had the same putt and she was wondering how much it broke. All I told Lucie was that Reagan said it broke much more than she thought."
Charbonnier took it from there, making the putt to rally from a rough start that saw her 3 over after four holes.
"I told myself I wasn't out here for nothing," she said. "I wanted to do well and win again with the team. Obviously, I had to do better, and I was able to make some birdies.”
Charbonnier, from France, said she cares more about the team winning for Stephens, a first-year head coach, than any individual honors. But the race to be the top medalist should be tight as they move back to The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale where the Division I men played their second round on Tuesday.
Howard University’s Greg Odom Jr. shot a 1-over 70 at Torresdale to take a 3-shot lead into the final round of the Men’s Division I competition. Odom is 2 under for the tournament, followed by Patrick Mwendapole of Arkansas-Pine Bluff who is 1 over after a 3-over 73 on Tuesday. Everett Whiten Jr. of Howard is third at 2 over after a 5-over 75. Three players are tied at 4-over: Jaime Moliner of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Daniel Barbara of North Carolina Central and Patrick Jean-Pierre of Florida A&M.
"On this course, I focused on putting and [hitting] the ball to the right position," said Odom, who is the defending champion here and has a sponsor’s exemption into the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship this weekend.
The team competition is equally tight with Arkansas-Pine Bluff holding a slim lead at 24 over par. Howard is three shots back, and Chicago State University and Florida A&M are each four back.
Sparky Ariyachatvakin of Delaware leads the Men’s Individual Division for players not competing with a Division I team. His 1-over 71 at Liberty Hill put him 1 over for the tournament. Jeff Cunningham of Drexel is 2 over, while Ali Khan of Ball State is 4 over.
Two Kansas State players top the leaderboard for the Women’s Individual Division. Haley Vargas shot an even-par 70 at Torresdale to stand 2 over for the tournament. Gabriela McNelly of KSU, Sakura Suglyam of North Texas, and Sonja Tang of British Columbia are 3 over.
“There were a few holes that gave some trouble,” Vargas said. “But other than that I persevered and got through the round.”
Virginia Union’s Travon Willis leads the Men’s Division II leaderboard at 2 over, one shot better than Andres Navarro of CSU Dominguez Hills and Cade Kilkenny of Kentucky State University, who are 3 over.