College Sports

Golf | Darkness halts NCAA D-I Women's Golf National Championship's third round

EAST MANATEE -- For the third straight day, the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship couldn't complete the round at The Concession Golf Club in East Manatee.

Inclement weather suspended Friday's first round, while darkness ended play Saturday and again on Sunday.

That means six teams will return to the course Monday morning at 10:50 a.m. to finish the third round.

The top 15 teams advance to the fourth and final stroke play round.

Currently, Southern California leads the way with a 28-over par total. The Trojans, though, have anywhere from two to five holes remaining on their third round.

Right behind the top-seeded Trojans are defending national champion Duke, who are three shots behind USC.

"The most challenging thing always is going to be just keeping your focus," Blue Devils head coach Dan Brooks said. "It's a weird feeling when you're playing golf and all of a sudden you are thinking about anything and everything other than shots. That's when you know you are tired."

Duke, which was the co-leader after the first round was finished Saturday morning, lost its lead when the second round was completed Sunday. And that gap widened by one shot late Sunday during the abbreviated third round.

Nonetheless, Brooks said his team was fighting until the end.

"Everybody seemed to be absolutely tuned in, playing hard," Brooks said. "That's a lot on a golf course like this on a long, hot day."

The battle for the 15th and final entrant into the fourth stroke play round is between Alabama and UCLA.

The Crimson Tide have finished their three rounds and sit at 63-over par, while UCLA is one shot back of that total with players still on the course for the third round.

The Bruins were at the bottom of the leaderboard after two rounds and vaulted six positions.

Alabama was paced by junior Emma Talley, who leads the individual standings with an even-par total through 54 holes.

Talley won the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur, and played in LPGA Tour major championships the following season.

That learning curve proved useful this week at The Concession.

Talley didn't waver from her game plan in Saturday's third round, grabbing a one-shot lead over Arizona State's Monica Vaughn following a second-straight 73.

"I knew it was going to take some conservative play out here," Talley said. "I just tried to get the ball in the fairway and I drew boxes on every green and I just tried to hit it somewhere on the green in the safe spot. Make a lot of pars and if birdie happens, it happens and keep away from the big numbers."

Talley pointed to her course management as the key to her success this week thus far, in addition to swinging well enough to put the ball where she wants it to go.

"I think some people have made some big numbers out there," Talley said. "And I think that's why I'm playing so well right now, just because my highest score right now is a bogey."

In addition to the top 15 teams advancing, the top nine individuals not on a progressing team will qualify for the fourth stroke play round, too.

Any ties will be broken with playoffs following Monday's conclusion of the third round.

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