TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Arkansas junior Kelli Shean carded an even-par 71 and is tied for fourth place leading the No. 35 Razorbacks to third place, just three strokes back, at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Women’s Golf Championship in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday.
The Razorbacks were eight strokes higher Saturday than in the first round but their plus-four on the day was the third-best round. Arkansas opened with a 280 followed by Saturday’s 288 for 558, three strokes out of first.
"Luck wasn’t quite on our side today but we were able to get through it," Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. "We hung in there tough and these guys really fought hard. To get out of here at four over and still in contention is great and I was pretty pleased. It got rocky in some spots but we got it back on track. We’re right where we want to be."
Shean opened the tournament with a first-round 69 and paired with her 71 is in the clubhouse with a 140. Vanderbilt’s Marina Alex and Georgia’s Marta Silva Zamora lead the field at 136.
The Cape Town, South Africa, native opened her day on the front nine and was even through the first two holes but picked up a stroke on the par three, third when her long putt slid by. Shean made up the ground on the fifth, however, with a birdie on the par four, 384-yard hole.
She would make the turn even for the day but bogeyed the 10th hole, a par five. Shean remained steady and got an eagle on 13, falling to one-under on the day. She seemed to be destined to finish that way but a medium-length putt on the fast-moving 18th green lipped out and Shean ended the day even.
"Kelli is in an awesome position," Estes-Taylor said. "She’s a fighter. She’s a champion. This has been one of her goals for a long time. She’s been very focus and she’s ready to go. She’s got all the shots and just has to go out and take care of business."
Senior Alex Schutle made her return to the Arkansas lineup this week after missing several spring events with a wrist injury. Schulte played one-under Friday and one-over Saturday for a 142. She is tied for 11th overall. Senior Kristin Ingram (71-72) and freshman Victoria Vela (70-73) are tied for 16th overall with 143 and senior Tiffany Phelps was solid with a second-round 73 for a 147 (74-73). She is tied for 28th overall.
Arkansas has struggled at times this season in the four and five spots but Estes-Taylor is pleased with what she has seen this weekend.
"It’s been awesome," she said. "I can’t say enough about Tiffany. She birdied her last hole today to shoot two over and Alex has been a missing link for us. She brings some good chemistry to the group and shot one over today."
The day began with a two-way tie for the lead between No. 15 Georgia and the Razorbacks. Conditions were tougher Saturday and the home team rallied from their opening hole jumping into the lead. The No. 6 Crimson Tide (287-278) posted the lowest round of the day with a 278 for a 565 tying No. 20 Vanderbilt (284-281) for the lead.
Arkansas is closely followed by No. 15 Georgia (280-291) who struggled a bit on the front nine falling to fourth with 571. The rest of the field includes No. 17 LSU in fifth with 574 (284-290), No. 4 Auburn in sixth with 577 (289-288), No. 30 South Carolina in seventh with 579 (289-290), Ole Miss in eighth at 582 (284-298), No. 16 Tennessee in ninth with 589 (298-291), No. 19 Florida in 10th with 598 (298-300), Kentucky in 11th at 598 (302-296) and Mississippi State in 12th at 610 (309-301).
Play concludes Sunday with the final round at the NorthRiver Yacht Club, a par 71, 6,057-yard course located 15 minutes from Alabama’s campus.
The Razorbacks are set for a 9:20 a.m. start playing with Alabama and Vanderbilt in the final round.
"We have to focus on ourselves," Estes-Taylor said. "Take it one shot at a time and worry about ourselves, not other people or teams. We’ve got a shot to win this thing and that’s all we can ask for."