Feb. 16, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Undeterred by Saturday's howling wind and a mid-round rain storm at the Southwood Golf Course, the Florida State women's golf team put itself in position to capture top team honors at the 2013 Florida State Match-Up.
Led by senior Jessica Negron, whose two-under par round of 70 equaled the low round of the day, Florida State heads into Sunday's final round in sole possession of the second place, trailing Oklahoma by six shots. Florida State put together a second-round team score of five-over 283, good for a two-day total of 588, which trails the sixth-ranked Sooners' 582.
"In the fall and the first couple months of the spring, we haven't had a very good second round," Florida State coach Amy Bondsaid. "The second round is your moving day and I thought today we moved right where we needed to be. We didn't shoot ourselves out of it. ... All you want is a shot on Sunday and we're certainly going to have our shot tomorrow to win it."
The difficult conditions led to a shake-up of the leaderboard. FSU began the day tied for third, but climbed over both Georgia and Tennessee, which began the day in first and second, respectively. Oklahoma rocketed into the lead with a second-round team score of four-under, 284 over the rolling, 6,314-yard course.
In addition to Negron, who shared low-round honors with Oklahoma's Jade Staggs, the Seminoles counted an even-par 72 from freshman Olivia Hullert, senior Malin Jansson's 75 and a 76 from Mary Beth Ramsay. It was just Jansson's second competitive round in nine months due to injury.
"The girls were more comfortable today," Bond said. "They were a little apprehensive yesterday, and you couldn't fault them, playing in front of all of their family and friends. They were really nervous. Today they came out and they kind of brushed off the nerves and played a really good round of golf."
It was certainly an impressive performance for the Seminoles, not only under the conditions, but also against a 12-team field which includes six ranked programs. FSU is being chased by No. 16 Georgia, No. 33 Tennessee, No. 21 Texas A&M, No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 41 Texas-San Antonio.
"I'm proud of the girls for playing as well as they have today, but I'm also not surprised," Negron said.
Negron , who began the day tied for fifth, has sole possession of third with a two-day total of two-under, 142. Furman's Laura Wearn and Georgia's Rocio Sanchez Lobato shared the lead at four-under, 140. Hullert takes a share of sixth place into the final round at even par, 144.
In the unique Match Up scoring portion of the event, which pairs teams and counts the four lowest scores plus the highest scores, the Florida State-Texas A&M pairing trails the Georgia-Oklahoma pairing by five shots - 730-735 - heading into the final round. Ten shots back at 745 is the Tennessee-UTSA, followed by Furman-Kansas at 748.
While Bond was pleased with her entire squad, she was especially happy with the way Negron and Hullert performed.
"The day kind of belonged to Jess and even Olivia," Bond said. "Jess finished under par and Olivia was under par until the last couple of holes."
The Seminoles began play at No. 10 and didn't waste any time getting off to a quick start. Hullert bogeyed the opening hole but closed with birdies at Nos. 16 and 18 to make the turn at 1-under, 35. She eventually got to two-under on the round with a birdie at No. 4, but was forced to settle for a round of 72 after bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9.
Negron made the turn at 2-under 34, with birdies at Nos. 12, 16 and 18 about the time the weather was at its foulest.
"The wind picked up before the rain," said Negron, who was at No. 16 when the weather changed. "The rain happened so it settled down and then when the rain went away the wind started picking up again. It was stronger."
Negron began her birdie barrage with a 7-iron approach shot at the par-four, 389-yard 12th hole. "It was between 15-20 feet, uphill and broke to the left," she said. "I had to hit it a little bit firmer because it was uphill. It went right in the heart of the hole."
At the 511-yard, par-five 16th hole the Ocala, Fla. native pulled out her hybrid from 170 yards.
"I wasn't sure if my 5-iron was going to get there or not because all of the trouble there is in the front," said Negron, who blasted her shot until the hill to the right, above the green. She lofted her sand wedge shot to within seven feet and sank the putt to get to 2-under.
She used that same sand wedge to cover the final 89 yards to the green at the 405-yard 18th hole, knocking her ball pin-high and draining the putt in response to her only bogey of the round at No. 17.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more," said Bond, who described the weather conditions as miserable. "I thought they did a good job of fighting through everything and they made some putts today, which was a huge difference. Plus-five today - I'm very happy with how we finished."
The final round action will resume at 9 a.m. at Southwood - a 30-minute delay from the scheduled start - due to the forecast of a hard overnight freeze. Admission to the tournament is free.