May 20, 2004
After the third day of the 2004 NCAA Championships at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala., Tennessee sits in 18th place with a 37-over 901 (303-297-301) after posting a 13-over 301 on the day. The team total set a program standard for a 54-hole tally in an NCAA Championship by breaking the previous record set by the 2000 edition that totaled a 905 (301-298-306) after its third day. Overall, the Lady Vols are just four shots out of a top 10 finish.
UCLA held off a late charge by Oklahoma State to maintain the lead in the team-title battle with a two-under 286 for a six-under total of 858 (289-283-286), while the Cowgirls blistered the course with a six-under 282 on the day to vault over pre-tourney favorite Duke to close out the day in second place with a one-under 863 (288-293-282). The Blue Devils round out the trio of squads with a legitimate shot at the national title with a one-over 865 (289-284-292) to close out the day in third place.
As for the individual championship fray, UCLA's Susie Mathews and Oklahoma State's Karin Sjodin have toyed with the course thus far. Both players lead the 125-person field with matching eight-under 208s (71-69-68). The duo is in a stare-down to see who breaks first after each posted four-under 68s during the third round. California's Sarah Huarte, however, may sneak by both after blasting the links with a five-under 67 to be one shot off the lead pace with a seven-under 209 (73-69-67).
"We had three solid rounds today," Head Coach Judi Pavon said. "Although, we had to count an 81 and that kills you. We can't afford to do that."
As for the Big Orange, junior Jessica Shepley (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) paced Tennessee with her 13th-career par-or-under round after firing a one-under 71 with a
career-low 216 (73-72-71) to finish in a tie for 10th place. Her tally after three days is also a program standard at the NCAA event with the previous record holder, Jessica
Lindbergh, setting the mark with a 218 (74-70-74) in 1997.
"Jessica played solid today," Pavon said. "She did not make a lot of mistakes and was pretty steady the entire day and never in danger."
The Tennessee team captain had a run of 10 holes at even-or-under during a round that featured three birdies, 13 pars and just two bogeys.
"I felt great today," Shepley said. "I played steady and made some birdie putts. I also chipped in on No. 3 and just kept it in the fairway and on the green today."
Junior Teesha Ash (Chattanooga, Tenn.) brought in an impressive second consecutive solid performance with a two-over 74 for a three-day 67th-place-tying season-low 226 (79-73-74).
"Teesha played great," Pavon said. "I am proud of her over the past two rounds. She kept her composure and did her thing. I am pleased that we got her going."
The East Tennessee product opened up with a birdie and never really looked back outside of a double and a bogey on No. 13 and 14. At one point, Ash knocked in 10 out of 11 holes at par or under. Overall, she collected three birdies, 11 pars, three bogeys and a double.
"I didn't play as well as I did yesterday," Ash said. "I struggled a bit, but took advantage of the opportunities I had. It was a bit frustrating, but it felt good that I brought it in well. I have another day to go after it again."
Sophomore Violeta Retamoza (Aguascalientes, Mexico) carded a three-over 75 on the day to tally a three-day 223 (73-76-75) and tie for 37th place. The All-SEC first-team selection had three birdies, 11 pars, two bogeys and a pair of doubles, while fellow classmate Golda Johansson (Lund, Sweden) finished with a nine-over 81 for a three-day 237 (79-77-81) to tie for 115th place. Johansson began the day with a trio of pars, but ran into a stretch in which she bogeyed six out of seven holes including a double on No. 14. Overall, she had a birdie, nine pars, six bogeys and two doubles.
Freshman Holly Cantwell (Morristown, Tenn.) closed out the UT effort by recording a nine-over 81 for a three-day 236 (78-77-81) to tie for 111th place. The rookie's round looked promising to open as she rang off six pars and two birdies to sit at two-under after eight holes. Cantwell, however, began a stretch with a double on No. 18, a bogey on No. 1, a double on No. 2 and a quadruple bogey on No. 3 to move to four-over. The local product then bounced back with four pars and two bogeys over her final six holes.
Next up, the Lady Vols close out the tournament and their season Friday by playing the fourth-and-final round of the NCAA Championships. The Big Orange opens the day from the 10th tee at 9 a.m. CT and will be paired with Arizona and Washington.
At Grand National Lake Course (Opelika, Ala.)
|Top Scorer (field=125):|
|1.||Susie Mathews, UCLA||71-69-68=208|
|Karin Sjodin, Oklahoma St.||71-69-68=208|