April 17, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Freshman Erica Popson's spectacular 4-under 67 powered the No. 14/16-ranked Tennessee women's golf team to a seven-stroke improvement on Saturday during second round action at the 2010 SEC Women's Golf Championship.
Opening the day on the backside at the par-71, 6.057-yard NorthRiver Yacht Club course, Popson hit her drive into the water on No. 17 to double-bogey the par-3 hole. The Davenport, Fla., native was 1-over at the turn, but quickly made her mistake a distant memory as she birdied six of her final nine holes to finish with her best score as a collegian.
Popson, who will head into the final day tied for fourth (2-under 73-67=140) and four shots out of first-place, had a previous season-best of 1-under 71, set at the Tar Heel Invitational in September.
"I wasn't very happy with myself after hitting it into the water on No. 17, but I just told myself that I had to have a solid front nine," Popson said. "I just played one shot at a time and didn't get ahead of myself. I stayed in the present, today."
Led by Popson's phenomenal round, the Lady Vols followed Friday's opening score of 298 with a 7-over 291. UT is in ninth with a 589 (+21) total.
"The team came out a little more focused today," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "They made some mistakes, but not as many as yesterday. Erica was awesome today. She's determined to play well and had a great second nine today. Her score really helped the team, obviously. We just need some better play from the rest of the team. We were in it today, but just missed some chances."
The Orange and White will start Sunday's final round from the 10th hole at 10:20 a.m. ET in a group with No. 19 Florida and Ole Miss.
Live results can be found at golfstat.com, while twitter.com/utladyvols will provide updates.
Sophomore Sara Monberg improved by four strokes on Saturday, from 78 to 74, and moved up to tied for 46th position with a 152 (+10) total, while senior Ginny Brown shook off her own rough start (88 on Friday) by carding a 75 for the second round. Her 163 (+21) total puts her in 60th.
Sophomore Nathalie Mansson, UT's No. 1 player, recorded a uncharacteristic four bogeys and one double-bogey in round two, but added a pair of birdies and finished with a 4-over 75. Her 72-75=147 (+5) places the Stockholm, Sweden, native in a tie for 28th.
Rounding out the Lady Vol performers on day two was senior Diana Cantú, who followed a day-one 75 with a 5-over 76. Her 9-over 151 score is tied for 40th.
No. 6 Alabama and No. 20 Vanderbilt head into the final round of the conference tournament tied atop the leader board at 3-under 565. The Crimson Tide and Commodores charged up the leaderboard with scores of 6-under and 3-under, respectively.
Vanderbilt's Marina Alex had the day's best individual round, scorching the course for a 6-under 65 to move into a tie with Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora, the defending champion, at 6-under 136. Popson's round ties for the Lady Vols' second-lowest score in relations to par, and matches Nathalie Mansson's second-round 67 from the season-opening Cougar Classic for UT's lowest round of the season.
Her 36-hole total of 140 (-2) also ties for the sixth-lowest Lady Vol score ever through 36 holes.
Popson, who is playing in only her third full tournament since returning from a wrist injury, said she received a huge boost of confidence after today's performance and is looking forward to Sunday's final round.
"I haven't been playing too bad the last few tournaments," Popson said. "I just hadn't been scoring the way I want to. My game has been right there, so it really felt good to get that score today. I have to put it behind me and start over tomorrow, though."
|LADY VOL SCORES|
|t4.||Erica Popson||73-67=140 (-2)|
|t28.||Nathalie Mansson||72-75=147 (+5)|
|t40.||Diana Cantú||75-76=151 (+9)|
|t46.||Sara Monberg||78-74=152 (+10)|
|60.||Ginny Brown||88-75=163 (+21)|