ATHENS, Ga. – With only 18 holes remaining in the NCAA Championships, No. 6 Ally McDonald is just two strokes off the lead for the individual national title at the UGA Golf Course.
McDonald has played the front nine of all three rounds at even par thus far in the championships. After missing several birdie chances early in her round Thursday, the sophomore knew she needed another strong finish to stay in contention for the title.
The Fulton, Miss., native proceeded to post back-to-back birdies on holes No. 13 and 14. In fact, McDonald has capitalized on the par-3 13th and par-4 14th all week as she is 4-under on those two holes alone.
After landing in the bunker short of the green on the 150-yard, par-3 16th and posting a bogey, she recovered with another birdie on No. 17.
“I played pretty well,” McDonald said. “My ball striking was consistent. I couldn’t get anything started toward the beginning of the round and three-putted the first hole, but I birdied the next hole to get it back. On the back, I turned it on. Putts started falling and I hit a few really good shots. I had several opportunities for birdies. I think I’m in a good position to make something happen tomorrow. (The other top players) have no control over what I do. It’s basically me, the ball and my clubs.”
McDonald finished with a 2-under 70 for the third round. Her three-round 7-under-par 209 (70-69-70) is only two strokes behind No. 2 Annie Park (USC), who tied an NCAA Championships record with a three-round 9-under-par 207 (70-67-70). No. 1 Stephanie Meadow (Alabama) has matched McDonald’s 7-under (69-67-73) thus far.
Slated for an 8:09 a.m. CT tee off No. 10 Friday morning, McDonald owns the nation’s seventh-best final-round average of 71.64.
The Mississippi State women’s golf team posted a team tournament-best 4-over-par 292 to climb into 18th place in the championship field, just three strokes back of a top-15 finish.
MSU’s 292 matches its second-best postseason round in program history, while the three-round 894 is also second-best.
“I couldn't be prouder of our girls today,” third-year MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. “We stumbled a bit at first but regrouped, relaxed and settled into the back nine really well. The greens are running a bit faster as the tournament progresses and the hole placements are characteristic of a national championship. This is what we have worked so hard for; this is the fun stuff!”
Mary Langdon Gallagher got off to a slow start double bogeying the first hole and made the turn at 5-over. The seasoned junior regained her composure and carded nine pars on the back to salvage her round. The Greenwood, Miss., native is currently 13-over with a 229 (78-74-77) through 54 holes.
Rica Tse also stumbled early bogeying three of her first four holes before settling in for the day. After turning at 4-over, she birdied No. 10, 15 and 18. A double bogey on the par-4 14th was her only hiccup of the back nine. She is also owns a three-round 229 (76-78-75).
Fellow sophomore Elena Warren rebounded to carve ten strokes from her second-round tally. The Austin, Texas, native birdied No. 2 before posting 11 straights pars. Warren went bogey-birdie-bogey on holes No. 14 through16 and finished the second round at even par. She is currently 14-over (76-82-72=230) heading into Friday’s final 18 holes.
Gabi Oubre’ rounded out the Lady Bulldog lineup posting her best round of the championships, a 3-over-par 75. The freshman from Mobile, Ala., turned at 3-over but battled during the back nine to finish even par behind a three-birdie performance. She is currently 22-over (82-81-75=238) entering the final round.
No. 1 USC owns a commanding 17-stroke lead over the championship field entering Friday. After opening with a 4-under-par 284, the Trojans posted an NCAA Championships-record 12-under 276 on Wednesday and followed it up with a 285 Thursday. No. 3 Duke (862, -2) is second and there is a three-way tie between No. 2 Alabama, No. 7 Purdue and No. 8 UCLA for third.
The Lady Bulldogs are slated to tee off at 7:25 a.m. CT Friday alongside No. 24 Northwestern and No. 35 Oregon.
Live video streaming will be available via NCAA.com/liveschedule beginning at 11 a.m. CT Friday and run until the last putt drops.
Live stats will also be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the women’s golf program on Twitter, @mstateWG, and on Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG
Third Round – May 23, 2013
1. No. 1 USC (284-276-285=845, -18); 2. No. 3 Duke (286-289-287=862, -2); T3. No. 2 Alabama (288-284-301=873, +9); T3. No. 7 Purdue (289-289-295=873, +9); T3. No. 8 UCLA (289-287-297=873, +9); 6. No. 12 Arizona State (293-287-296=876, +12); 7. No. 13 Stanford (290-288-301=879, +15); 8. No. 14 Tulane (295-289-297=881, +17); T9. No. 4 Oklahoma (291-291-300=882, +18); T9. No. 38 Auburn (305-292-285=882, +18); T9. No. 48 San Jose State (284-303-295=882, +18); 12. No. 25 Michigan State (298-291-298=887, +23); T13. No. 17 UC Davis (299-297-294=890, +26); T13. No. 9 Arizona (298-295-297=890, +26); T15. No. 5 Arkansas (296-293-301=891, +27); T15. No. 24 Northwestern (298- 293-300=891, +27); 17. No. 35 Oregon (301-295-297=893, +29); 18. No. 40 Mississippi State (300-302-292=894, +30); 19. No. 6 Vanderbilt (298-289-307=895, +31); 20. No. 15 Oklahoma State (303-300-294=897, +33); 21. No. 18 Texas (299-295-394=898, +34); 22. No. 32 South Carolina (304-305-292=901, +37); 23. No. 10 Florida (299-298-305=902, +38); 24. No. 47 Wisconsin (301-309-297=907, +43).
MSU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
T2. No. 6 Ally McDonald 70-69-70=209, -7
T90. Rica Tse 76-78-75=229, +13
T90. Mary Langdon Gallagher 78-74-77=229, +13
T99. Elena Warren 76-82-72=230, +14
123. Gabi Oubre’ 82-81-75=238, +22