April 16, 2011
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Assistant
AUBURN, Ala. - Tennessee Lady Vol sophomore golfer Erica Popson will take a one-shot individual lead into Sunday's final round at the 2011 SEC Championship. The Davenport, Fla., native carded a 2-over 74 on a very windy Saturday at the par-72, 6,364-yard Auburn Golf Club course and has a 66-74=140 (-4) total with 18 holes remaining.
Popson, who finished runner-up in a playoff at the 2010 SEC Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is looking to be the second Lady Vol ever to capture an individual SEC Championship. Katharina Larsson accomplished the feat in 1994, winning by nine strokes at Old Waverly Country Club in Waverly, Miss.
"It was really windy today," Popson said. "I hit a lot of good shots, but I didn't hit it very close that often. I only had two birdies, and I missed some short putts. It was tough. I'm not very happy with my round, but I'm happy where I stand. Hopefully, I can just go out and tear it up tomorrow."
As a team, the 11th-ranked Lady Vols dropped two places to fourth after carding a round-two 20-over 308. UT is six shots out of third-place with a 285-308=593 (+17) total. Host Auburn (573) holds a commanding nine-stroke lead over Alabama (582), while LSU sits in third (587). Tennessee is one stroke ahead of fifth-place Arkansas (594) and eight strokes in front of sixth-place Georgia (601).
The Lady Vols will start the final round from No. 1 at 8 a.m. on Sunday in a group with the Razorbacks and Bulldogs.
Golfstat.com will have live results, while Twitter.com/LadyVol_Golf will have updates from the course. "We got off to a pretty decent start today," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "We handled the pressure of the day and the wind pretty good at the beginning and after the turn we struggled. We were 17-over during a five-hole stretch (on the back nine), which is so uncharacteristic of our team. I think maybe they just got tired of the wind and thought they should be playing better. Unfortunately, it's going to cost us the tournament. So now we need to reevaluate and put some good goals out there for tomorrow so we can finish strong."
The Lady Vols only recorded one birdie on the back nine and were especially hurt by Holes 10 through 14, a stretch that featured nine bogeys, three double bogeys and a one triple bogey.
Junior All-American Nathalie Mansson was Tennessee's No. 2 scorer for the second straight day, carding a 4-over 76. She is tied for 14th with a 72-76=148 (+4) total.
Rounding out the scores for the Lady Vols were freshman Chessey Thomas (74-79=153), who is tied for 28th and sophomore Sara Monberg (73-82=155) and freshman Kaitlyn Rohrback (76-79=155), who are both tied for 37th.
Popson will be in a group with Georgia's Marta Silva, the No. 1-ranked NCAA Division I player according to Golfstat and the 2009 SEC Champion, and Arkansas' star freshman Emily Tubert, ranked No. 11 by Golfstat.
Popson ranks 17th in the Golfstat rankings, but sits first in the nation in par-5 scoring (4.69). That average is likely to lower after she nabbed birdies on the first two par-5s of the second round.
Tennessee's only other birdies came from Rohrback, when she drilled a 15-foot putt on No. 16, and Thomas, on No. 4.
Popson spent most of the second day being chased by Auburn All-American Cydney Clanton, who had five birdies. Clanton birdied No. 16 and pulled even with Popson after the Lady Vol bogeyed No. 17. However, Popson regained the lead with by making par on No. 18 after Clanton bogeyed the final hole of the day.
"Erica is still right in it and playing solid," Pavon said. "Unfortunately, she won't be in the lead group, but maybe it will be better for her to go out early, post a great score and have the other players chase her."
|LADY VOL SCORES|
|1.||Erica Popson||66-74=140 (-4)|
|t14.||Nathalie Mansson||72-76=148 (+4)|
|t28.||Chessey Thomas||74-79=153 (+9)|
|t37.||Sara Monberg||73-82=155 (+11)|
|t37.||Kaitlyn Rohrback||76-79=155 (+11)|