Golf

NCAA golf notebook | Singh, Maguire keep Duke within striking distance

EAST MANATEE -- Gurbani Singh's day began with her battling the symptoms of a cold. It finished with Singh one putt away from capping a strong second round with a birdie at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships before the horn sounded for lightning.

"It was so close," she said after the round.

The rounds of Singh and three other Duke golfers were cut short, but the Blue Devils finished the second day at The Concession Golf Club in second place, nine strokes behind top-seed USC.

Singh and Leona Maguire were No. 4 Duke's top performers Saturday, each shooting 2 over par on the lengthy, rigorous Concession course. Maguire, who made it through 15 holes, is at 1 over par for the tournament and three behind leader Annie Park, who paced the Trojans at 2 under.

For nearly all of Singh's first 14 holes, she was the top performer of the second round without any players under par. She bogeyed her first hole, the 10th, and then played scratch golf until the final two holes before the turn. She birdied 17 and 18 before setting off on the front nine.

For the next five holes, she was one of the round's only players below par. But she bogeyed the 15th and then doubled 16. After a par on 17, she lofted an approach shot toward the 18th pin that left her just feet away from a birdie that could salvage her round.

And then the horn sounded.

"I hit it so well," Singh said. "The pins were very tough today compared to yesterday, but I stuck almost all of my four irons, five irons.

"I didn't sink all my putts, but I gave myself a lot of opportunities."

Stanford stumbles

After bogies on 16 and 17 dropped Stanford's Mariah Stackhouse out of the lead, an 18th-hole debacle dropped her down to a tie for fourth and left her four strokes off the lead heading into Sunday.

Stackhouse's second shot on the 386-yard par 4 sailed over the green, leaving her with a chance to lay up and potentially salvage a par. This is where the collapse came. Stackhouse shanked her third shot to the right and onto a cart path. Her fourth shot came up short of the green again and rolled back atop a storm drain. After a drop, she finally reached the green and still needed two more putts before finishing her day with a triple bogey.

"More than 18 up here is definitely a lot," said Stackhouse, who had to play six holes Saturday morning after storms cut the Cardinal's round short Friday. "I didn't get much sleep last night, I just couldn't go to sleep, but by the end (fatigue) probably kicked in."

Through 15, Stackhouse was cruising through the difficult Concession course at 1 over and holding steady atop the leaderboard. She wasn't pouring in the birdies like she did during her 4-under first round, but she was surviving.

On 16, though, she needed a two-putt for a bogey. On 17, she needed another two-putt from within 15 feet to take another bogey. By then she was out of the lead, conceding the top spot to Park and South Carolina's Katelyn Dambaugh.

"I was in the right places to putt from yesterday, and today I was on all the wrong sides of the pin, so I was never putting for a one putt," Stackhouse said. "It was like control it and make sure you had an opportunity for par."

Stanford's collapse coincided with Stackhouse's relatively disappointing second day. No. 13 Stanford, which shot 3 over as a team during its rain-shortened first day, ended up tied with the Blue Devils by the time the second round got underway at 9 a.m. And by the end of the day, the team was plus-40 and in a tie for 11th place.

Scores soar

The Concession plays like a professional open course, which has caused some problems -- mainly because it's not being played by professionals.

No team is within 10 strokes of par after nearly two rounds in East Manatee, and it seems likely that the leader entering match play will be at plus-20 or higher. The co-leader from Friday is 40 over. Baylor, which was tied for third entering the weekend, is 28 over. The current leader is 14 over and last-place California is 65 over.

The length of the course is causing problems, and it meant that neither the first nor second round could finish before evening storms came through Bradenton.

"It's just a lot of golf course for 24 collegiate teams," Duke head coach Dan Brooks said. "When you have this length on greens that are this firm and fast and this undulated, then it makes for very challenging golf."

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