College / Women

Behind record-setting Virginia Elena Carta, Duke vaults up NCAA leaderboard

EUGENE, Ore. – Cut day has arrived at the NCAA Women’s Championship.

The field will be cut to the low 15 teams after Sunday’s third round and then the top eight teams after Monday’s fourth round will be paired in head-to-head match play, which will decide the national champion.

The Sunday morning wave of 12 teams is off the course and USC is in a familiar place. The Trojans, who won the stroke-play portion of last year’s championship and earned the No. 1 seed, are headed in that direction again this year at Eugene Country Club.

USC posted its highest score of the three rounds with a 3-over 291, but still is on top of the leaderboard, leading UCLA and Duke by two shots. Those three teams are the only schools under par.

“We were not as sharp as (Saturday), maybe a little fatigued,” USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. “It’s a lot of golf, we just need to re-load.”

While the Trojans posted their highest score this week, Duke turned in its best score, matching USC’s 8-under second round for the best round of the of the championship so far.

Following Round 2, Duke head coach Dan Brooks was pleased to see his team bounce back.

“This isn’t the first time we have gotten in a bit of a hole on the first day and I think what happens is there is expectation that first day,” Brooks said. “You are not familiar with the golf course and it’s a good golf course. You get down and then you realize you are the same team if you are willing to realize that. If you get scared by that first day then you are in trouble.”

The Blue Devils have obviously realized they are a good team. With one round to go in stroke play, they are in the mix to earn the No. 1 seed.

While Duke is at 2 under as a team, freshman Virginia Elena Carta is turning in a record week individually. A hot putter has helped Carta tour the par-72, 6,331-yard layout with rounds of 69-68-66. Her 13-under 203 total is a 54-hole NCAA Women’s Championship scoring record. The previous mark was 9 under, set by four different players.

“My putter is what is making the difference,” Carta said.

As for her leading the NCAA Championship with just one round to go: “It’s weird,” Carta said. “It’s unexpected.”

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