FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 36 University of Arkansas women’s golf team rallied behind great conditions and the play of sophomores Emma Lavy and Emily Tubert moving up the leaderboard to second place after second round action at the Southeastern Conference Championship at Blessings Saturday. “I’m just so proud of this group,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. “We have worked so hard since August to be in this position to win. This is a demanding golf course on every single shot and you can never let your guard down and you have to focus. The crowds, the energy and support are what pulled us through and we are in a position to win our first SEC Championship.” Lavy, a Fayetteville, Ark., native, fired an even par 72 in the second round for a 145 and is tied for third overall in the 60-player field. Lavy paced Arkansas in the first round, keeping the Razorbacks in the hunt after a tough start to tournament play. The course challenged Lavy early with two bogeys in the first three holes but she rallied and made the turn at one-over. Lavy then pared her next five holes followed by birdies on 15 and 16 as her steady round continued. “I made some good birdies and I made some putts today,” said Lavy. “I have not putted well this year so to see some putts go in was nice. We had a bunch of good energy and I think we are in a good spot and climbing the leaderboard.” Tubert, who was well off her usual pace with a first-round 78, battled back with a two-under 70 in the second round. She is in the clubhouse with a 146 and in fifth place overall. The front nine was good to Tubert with four birdies and one bogey as she turned three-under. She finished strong with a birdie on 13 and a pair of bogeys for her 70. “Emma and Emily are our leaders on and off the golf course and I expect nothing less than that,” said Estes-Taylor. “I’m so proud of them but I expect it of them.” Although the play of the top two players was key for Arkansas, the Razorbacks would not be in a good position if not for the scores of the rest of the team. Junior Victoria Vela knocked two strokes off her first round score with a 76 in the second round for a 154. Vela is tied for 20th overall. Sophomore Emily Podzielinski also posted better numbers with a 77, four strokes better than Friday, and is tied for 31st with a 158. Freshman Hally Leadbetter rounds out the Arkansas scores. Leadbetter is tied for tied for 55th overall with a 167.
The Razorbacks tee off beginning at 8:50 a.m. with Alabama and Auburn.
Second-ranked Alabama slipped two spots out of the lead into third place while fifth-ranked Auburn jumped up the leaderboard into first place. The Tigers lead the field with a 603. Arkansas is just one stroke back with 604 followed by the Crimson Tide with a 609. The rest of the field includes No. 15 Florida in fourth with 612, No. 9 Georgia in fifth with 614, No. 7 LSU in sixth with 619, No. 24 South Carolina, No. 41 Kentucky and No. 39 Ole Miss tied for seventh with 624. Tenth-ranked Vanderbilt is 10th overall with 625, No. 13 Tennessee is 11th with 629 and Mississippi State rounds out the field with a 641.