By Paul Dodson, NAIA Media Coordinator
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- (Third Round Pairings | Individual Results | Team Results | Video Recap) Entering Day Two with a nine-stroke advantage, SCAD Savannah (Ga.) held off William Woods (Mo.) to stay atop the team leaderboard following 36 holes of action at the 24th Annual NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship from PGA National (The Champions Course) (par 72, 5,875 yards).
The Bees (300-306, 606) are four strokes ahead of the Owls (309-301, 610), which shot a second-round-best 13-over on the day. Both squads finished the day with four of the top five individuals of the tournament.
“The wind was very difficult on the back nine,” SCAD Savannah Head Coach Amanda Workman said. “We started on the back and didn’t turn with our best nine holes. But, it put us in a decent position. I thought we struggled a little bit through our first nine holes. But, we had some girls play really well on the back nine, including a great performance from Maria (Paula Otero) and Sofia (Suarez). So, we definitely gutted it out."
“It was really good to see some of the girls, who maybe struggled a little bit yesterday, play better today,” Workman said. “And then to see Paulina (Camacho) fight through our second nine and have a great finish, gives us a lot momentum.”
Leading the way for SCAD Savannah is Maria Paula Otero. The native of Cali, Columbia, shot a one-over-par on Wednesday, moving up eight spots for a four-over 148 (75-73). Paula Otero currently tops the individual leaderboard. William Woods’ Nikki Callahan is just one stroke back from tournament leader, shooting a 75 on the day for an overall score of five-over (149).
“I started the day with confidence,” Paula Otero said. “Yesterday, I played well so, I was sure that I could continue that today. I started with two birdies and that gave me trust in myself and my swing. Because of that, I was able to stay in that positive mood.”
Following Paula Otero and Callahan on the overall leaderboard are SCAD Savannah’s Paulina Camacho, Williams Woods’ Megan Cullen, and Loyola's (La.) Daria Delfino. All three sit at seven-over with Cullen making the biggest jump among the top five of 23 spots from a day ago.
The Bees did not have the same success as they did during the first day of action, shooting a 306 (+18). Wind continued to be a factor for the field despite a complete 180 from yesterday’s wet conditions. Sunshine and blue skies filled the day which dried the course and gave the 30-team, 157-player field some different challenges.
“I thought the conditions were very difficult,” Workman said. “The course actually wasn’t as wet as it has been. We didn’t have rain and it was beautiful and sunny, but the wind was definitely a challenge. I’m glad today is over and am looking forward to tomorrow to see if we can put together four really good scores.”
After SCAD Savannah and William Woods on the team leaderboard are Taylor (Ind.) (+50), British Columbia (+58), Keiser (Fla.) (+60), and USC-Beaufort (S.C.) (+60).
For the second-straight year, Keiser University and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission are serving as hosts for this year’s National Championship held at PGA National.
The entire tournament field took part in Folds of Honor as all players had the opportunity to play in honor of a fallen soldier prior to them teeing off.
Third-round action in the four-round national tournament gets underway Thursday at 7:15 a.m. ET with the field being cut to the top 17 teams (plus ties) and 40 individuals (plus ties).