May 11, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Vanderbilt Coach Greg Allen has a pretty good pulse on his team and after yesterday's so-so start in the NCAA's Central Regional, he predicted his Commodores would come out and play well. Seldom has a coach's hunch been more accurate.
Vanderbilt put together a powerful round - the day's second best among the 24 teams - and jumped from an eighth place tie into sole possession of second place with Saturday's final round left to play. The Commodores trail Southern Cal by 12 shots and lead third-place Virginia by four.
"We have a tradition when we have later tee times," Allen revealed. "We always find a Cracker Barrel and have breakfast. Today we rolled into the course's parking lot and we just sat on the bus and sang and laughed for 15 minutes. We got off the bus, went through our warm-up and we were ready.
"We had fun today," Allen continued. "This is the team I thought we'd see. The pin placements were difficult but we played with such confidence, staying in the moment and within our process, that we didn't let those pins affect us too much."
Marina Alex and Lauren Stratton are tied for second in the big field, one-under par and two strokes behind USC's Lisa McCloskey's pace setting three-under score.
Stratton was a sub-par machine. Riding an eye-catching eight birdies, the all-SEC performer shot four-under on the day, finishing with three straight birdies. She had a roller coaster card after her three birds on the front nine let her make the turn at minus-two. Beginning on 11, the junior went bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie over six holes. Who needs par?
"Stratty sank a 25-footer for birdie on 18 and the Vanderbilt contingent watching behind the green went nuts," Allen said afterwards.
Alex has led the tournament much of the time and she was cruising again at two-under after 12 before finally chalking up three bogeys on the back side. She finished her day with a nice 8-footer to save par.
Every Commodore had her moments. Freshman Kendall Martindale had 15 pars, two bogeys and a birdie for a solid 73. Rene Sobolewski had a 78 after once again having trouble finishing strong and the scorecard will show Anna Leigh Keith shot eight-over 80 but what requires a closer inspection is that for 16 holes "Eddy", as she is called, was one-over par. However she began her day with a quadruple bogey on the first hole and got tripped with a triple bogey on No. 16. She had two birdies against three bogeys.
Vanderbilt is paired Saturday with first place USC and third place Virginia with tee times starting at 9:06 ET. The top eight finishers from this regional advance to the NCAA Championship played May 22-25 on the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
Complete statistics are found on golfstat.com.