Popson Continues Hot Streak, But Lady Vols Drop Back at NCAA Championships
Diana Cantú

May 19, 2010

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By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant

WILMINGTON, N.C. - Fast greens, afternoon winds and an hour weather delay slowed the 12th-ranked Tennessee women's golf team on Wednesday during second round action at the 2010 NCAA Women's Golf Championships.

Freshman Erica Popson continued the tear she began at the SEC Championships a month ago, however. The Davenport, Fla., native followed her round-one 72 with a 1-over 73 on Wednesday at the Country Club of Landfall's Pete Dye Course, as the Lady Vols carded a 19-over 307.

UT has a two-day total of 297-307=604 (+28) and is tied for 19th with Tulane. The Green Wave and five other teams didn't complete the second round, as play was halted due to weather concerns at 7:27 p.m. It marked the third such stoppage of play of the day. The second round will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday and round three will begin approximately an hour after its completion.

Golfstat.com will provide live hole-by-hole results, while www.twitter.com/utladyvols will have updates from the course. Additionally, NCAA.com will live stream holes 16, 17 and 18 for the third and fourth rounds.

Popson, who is tied for 20th with a 145 (+1) total, hasn't shot above a 73 since the Bryan National Collegiate tournament in the first week of April, a streak that encompasses eight rounds. She had four birdies in the second round on Wednesday despite struggling to reach greens.

"In the two tournaments before I had been hitting a lot of fairways and greens and giving myself opportunities, but this week I haven't hit much of either," Popson said. "I haven't been giving myself very many birdie opportunities. I've been getting up-and-down a lot and my putter has been saving me. When I have given myself an opportunity I've capitalized on it. If I keep putting well, I think I can really improve my position over the next two days."

Popson is seeking her third consecutive top-10 finish. She tied for first at the SEC Championship, eventually taking runner-up honors in a playoff, before tying for fourth at the NCAA East Regional from May 5-8. If Popson is able to extend her top-10 streak she will become just the fourth Lady Vol freshman to earn NGCA All-America honors.

"She's definitely been a bright spot," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "Even though she's not hitting the ball well, she's putting great."

Popson and the rest of the Big Orange squad will be looking to rebound from their lackluster second-round performance in a big way over the next two days.

Senior Diana Cantú and junior Lauren Spurlock were the only Lady Vols to improve their scores on Day 2. Cantú fired a 75 to improve by one stroke, while Spurlock totaled a 79, shaving five strokes off her first-round score.

Cantú had a near-mistake free second round, nabbing 16 pars. She made double-bogey and bogey on her other two holes, though. Spurlock made the turn at 6-over, but played the front nine just 1-over and made a 30-footer for birdie on No. 8.

Cantú is tied for 70th (151), while Spurlock is tied for 121st (163).

Sophomore Nathalie Mansson and freshman Sara Monberg ran into some tough luck on the course. Mansson fired an 8-over 80 - her highest score of the season - and saw numerous putts lip out on Wednesday's unforgiving greens. She is tied for 92nd (153).

Monberg nearly made a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole. Her tee shot hit the pin, but then careened into the water instead. She settled for a double bogey and finished with a 9-over 81. Her 157 total puts her in tied-for-109th place.

Despite the disappointing round, Pavon expects her team to improve and make a jump up the leaderboard over the next two days.

"The 16th hole was playing difficult and that kind of tripped us up a little bit," Pavon said. "We have been playing sloppy. We're missing a lot of putts. This is the national championships, you've got to execute when you're here.

"Our goal coming in was top-eight. If we've dug ourselves a hole, we can dig out of it in the next two days. If we could have an even-par round, which we are totally capable of doing, we can bounce back and still try to have a good finish."

t20. Erica Popson 72-73=145 (+1)
t70. Diana Cantú 76=75=151 (+7)
t92. Nathalie Mansson 73-80=153 (+9)
t109. Sara Monberg 76-81=157 (+13)
t121. Lauren Spurlock 84-79=163 (+19)
t19. Tennessee 297-307=604 (+28)
* Six teams will complete Round 2 Thursday morning





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