Daytona Beach – The Stetson University women’s golf team made a charge up the leaderboard on Saturday at the Xavier LPGA Collegiate Invitational.
The Hatters entered the second round in ninth place, but posted the third lowest round of the day on Saturday to move past five teams, into fourth place. Stetson will enter Sunday’s final round just three shots behind Atlantic Sun Conference foe Mercer for third in the 14-team field.
“The scores were high again because it was even windier today,” Stetson coach Floyd Kerr said. “Despite the wind, we were able to have a decent round. If we play really well tomorrow we could challenge.”
Stetson was led on Saturday by junior Mallory Viera (Howie-in-the-Hills, Fla.), who made a seven-shot improvement in the second round, posting a three-over par 75 to move into a tie for 15th place.
“Mallory hit the ball better and played a good round,” Kerr said. “We still had several holes where we had double bogeys. If we can continue to work to get those numbers down, we will be a lot better.”
Junior Jenn Hoecker (Rochester, NY) also made a big jump on Saturday, posting a nine-shot improvement with a 78.
“Jenna played much better, but had a couple of double bogeys that kept her from having a great round,” Kerr said.
Junior Sammi Smith (Louisville, Ky.) struggled with her short irons on Satuday and managed to hit just four greens in regulation. Despite those woes, she was able to scramble enough to post an 80 to stay within striking distance of a top 10 finish.
“As a team, we played much better today and moved up the standings by a lot on a day when many teams went backwards,” Smith said. “Both Mallory and Jenna had particularly good rounds.
“Personally, I struggled quite a bit today. I wasn't hitting my irons well at all and I hit very few greens in regulation. However, my short game was pretty good today and I was able to salvage a decent score out of what could have been a very bad day.”
Smith and Ryan Ashburn (Largo, Fla.) are tied for 11th place overall in the field after Ashburn posted her second consecutive 78.
“Sammi hit a lot of fairways, but hit only four greens,” Kerr said. “Her short game was MIA. She really struggled to get the ball on the green. She was in good position, but couldn’t get it on the green. She played well to have only hit four greens.
“Ryan had several three putts that hurt her. She could have had birdies and pars, but walked away with bogeys. Those three bad three-putts kept her from having a solid sound.”
Florida Gulf Coast continues to lead the overall field after posting a 308 team score on Saturday. The Eagles maintained a two-shot lead over Old Dominion, which also posted a score of 308 in the second round.
Mercer is 10 shots off the lead after a second round score of 316 with the Hatters two shots further back in fourth, just one shot ahead of both Bethune-Cookman and McNeese State and two ahead of North Florida.
FGCU’s Georgia Price had the low individual round of the day on Saturday with a two-over par 74. She is tied with Lacey Fears of Mercer at the top of the individual leaderboard. Both players stand at four-over par for the tournament.
Stetson’s Smith and Ashburn are both eight shots off the lead entering Sunday’s final round.
Play will start at 8 a.m. on Sunday with the Hatters playing the final day with players from Bethune-Cookman and McNeese State. Stetson’s players will begin the final round on holes four through seven.