The Loop

The Loop

UCLA grabs second-round lead, but can play better

May 20, 2009

__OWINGS MILLS, Md.--__There's respecting a golf course as treacherous as Caves Valley GC and then there's being held hostage by it. While UCLA has the lead after two rounds of the 28th NCAA Women's Championship, Bruins coach Carrie Forsyth thinks her players have yet to truly challenge the course ... with one notable exception.

"We've got to be a little more aggressive," Forsyth said after UCLA posted as five-over 293 in the second round for a 13-over 589 total. "I felt like yesterday as a team we did a little bit better job scrambling, kind of expecting that if you miss the fairway, you'd wedge it out. Today was a little bit more tentative. Just not the right focus on the golf course. The fairways are wide. You've got to get up there and pick a target and take a confident swing."

Forsyth's critical tone seems odd considering the Bruins finished the day three shots better than in the opening round. UCLA can thank Maria Jose Uribe for that, however, after the sophomore from Colombia shot a tournament-best 66 to take the individual lead at three-under 141.

"The reason she played good was because she had confidence in her ball striking today," Forsyth said. "She was making good aggressive swings. She wasn't playing afraid of the mis-hits. And it's understandable why you play that way on this course, because if you do miss the fairway, you're wedging it out a lot of times. It's pretty understandable where it comes from but you're not going to play well until you get that thought out of your mind."

UCLA's other counting scores came from Sydnee Michaels (75), Tiffany Joh (76) and __Stephanie Kono __(76).

Defending NCAA champion USC moved into second place at day's end, trailing their crosstown rivals by seven strokes after getting an even-par 72 from Belen Mozo and shoot a seven-under 295. In third place is Denver, the first-round leader, who dropped nine strokes off the pace after shooting 16-over 304.

"They're annoyed," said Pioneers coach Sammie Chergo, when asked about her team's mood. While__Dawn Shockley__ posted a 70 and Stephanie Sherlock shot a 73, the team's next best round was an 80 from Ellie Givens. "It was too bad we didn't get a third score."

Uribe's impressive performance--she hit only 10 greens but still have seven birdies offset by one bogey--jumped her to the top of individual leader board, two strokes clear of Pepperdine's Lisa McCloskey, Wake Forest's__Nannette Hill__ and Denver's Sherlock. McCloskey was the only other player to post a sub-70 score on the day, shooting a 69 while hitting 13 of 14 fairways.

In the team competition, a three-way tie for fourth includes top-ranked Arizona State, which improved on their 14-over 302 from the first round with a 10-over 298 Wednesday, but remains 11 strokes off the pace.

Caves Valley wasn't a push over in round 2, but it was a bit easier to score on than during the first round. Wednesday's average was 77.08, an improvement from Tuesday's 77.92. No individual hole has had a scoring average of par or lower during either day.

History shows that no individual has defend her NCAA title the next year, a feat Arizona State's Azahara Munoz was well aware of entering the NCAA Women's Championship and rather hopeful she could do something about. A opening-round 78, however, meant the 21-year-old senior from Spain would have to put on a fierce rally in order to keep the dream alive. Munoz got moving in the right direction Wednesday with a one-under 71, one of only five sub-par scores on the day. She moved from T-60 to T-16, but remains eight behind the leader.