Oct. 17, 2009
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee women's golf team will take its best score ever after 36 holes (2-under 283-292=574) and an eight stroke lead into the final day of the 13th annual Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships at Fox Den Country Club.
The Lady Vols fired the third-best score of the second round, 3-over 291, on a cold and windy Saturday and have three players - seniors Ginny Brown and Diana Cantú and sophomore Nathalie Mansson - in the top four on the leaderboard vying for medalist honors.
Tennessee's two-day total of 2-under 574 broke the previous UT-best of 575 set at the 2006 Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational.
The Big Orange will be looking to capture its 19th tournament title - and first since the 2006 Mercedes-Benz - on Sunday, starting from the first tee at 10:39 a.m. in a group with second-place Louisville (6-over 582) and third-place South Carolina (16-over 592).
"For our team to hang tough despite the weather and play well is great," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "They all really competed tough today. They're playing with a lot of confidence."
The Lady Vols needed to be tough on Saturday as Louisville charged up the leaderboard during the second round. Led by Sara-Maude Juneau, who is in first-place individually with a 3-under 141 total, the Cardinals erased five strokes from its 13-stroke deficit and are eight shots back of the Orange and White.
UT carded four bogeys, a double-bogey from freshman Sara Moneberg and a triple-bogey from Brown among its first four holes, but showed resilience to finish just 3-over after its poor start.
Monberg made birdie a few holes after her double and followed with another birdie on No. 18, while Brown played 2-under-par golf the rest of her round, carding four birdies.
Mansson also had four birdies and the led the team with a 1-under 71 score. Cantú was even on the back nine after making the turn at 2-over.
"These women know how to play golf," Pavon said. "That's the bottom line. They've been playing good all year and they are capable of fighting back which shows a sign of maturity. They never backed down today."
Mansson fired a second-consecutive 71 and is tied with Louisville's Laura Anderson for second place at 2-under 142.
Seniors Brown (70-73=143) and Cantú (69-74=143) are tied for fourth at 1-under after finishing the first round in first and second.
Cantú is tied for the tournament-lead with 29 pars, while Brown and Mansson are tied for second with eight birdies over two days at the competition.
The trio is set to battle the Louisville duo of Maude-Juneau and Anderson for both the medalist and team crowns.
Nicole Smith, who wrapped up her Lady Vol career in 2008, is the lasts Lady Vol to earn medalist honors a tournament. She took first at the 2006 NCAA Fall Preview.
Freshman Sara Monberg (t9th) is also in the top 10, as she has a 2-over 146 total after firing her second straight 73.
Rounding out Tennessee's lineup was freshman Erica Popson, who is tied for 39th with an 8-over 74-78=total.
Live results of Sunday's final round will be posted on www.golfstat.com. Teams begin at 9:00 a.m.