May 21, 2016
by Rob Moseley
Photo: Eric Evans
EUGENE, Ore. — In the golf world, Saturday is known as “moving day.” Usually, that’s when the third round is played. It’s the day to put yourself in serious contention, or fall back among the also-rans.
At this week’s NCAA women’s golf championships, the second round was played Saturday. But it was still moving day for the host team.
Tied for 15th after the first round, the UO women shot the second-best round of the day and made the biggest jump of any team in the 24-team field, shooting up 10 spots to a tie for fifth. Senior and Eugene native Caroline Inglis shot a course-record 7-under 65 at Eugene Country Club, and enters Sunday’s third round tied for fourth individually, six spots ahead of teammate Cathleen Santoso.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the move we made today,” UO coach Ria Scott said.
With Inglis and Santoso setting the pace, the Ducks shot a cumulative 6-under 282 to enter Sunday at 3-over 579 through two rounds. Southern California leads the team field at 7-under 569, after being the only team to outscore the Ducks on Saturday, with an 8-under 280.
The top 15 teams after Sunday’s third round qualify for the final round of stroke play Monday. After that round the individual medalist will be honored, and the field will be cut to eight teams for the start of match play Tuesday.
“This gives them all the boost that they can compete at this stage,” Scott said. “I think you’re going to see a really confident team tomorrow. This is kind of just opening the door for us.”
Inglis, playing on the Ducks’ home course, didn’t open the door so much as barge straight through it. Oregon started on the back nine Saturday — recall that the nines have been flipped this week, so the Ducks started on what is usually the front — and Inglis was 2 under before her only bogey of the day at No. 15.
She rallied with another birdie at No. 16, was 3 under for the day at the turn and made four more birdies on the front nine. Her finish included back-to-back birdies at No. 7 and No. 8.
“I was just trying to take go shot by shot, and stay present,” said Inglis, whose previous career-best at Oregon was 67, though she’d scored 66 on multiple occasions in other events. “And the birdies kept coming.
A gallery of perhaps 30 people followed Inglis through her round, and roared with each successive birdie putt. They kept falling, after work Inglis put in at the practice greens following her round of 73 on Friday.
“Yesterday I was hitting short putts a little too hard, and had some lip-outs,” she said. “It was just better all around today.”
Inglis wasn’t the only Duck to finish well Saturday. The front nine was Oregon’s nemesis in the opening round, but on Saturday all four Ducks who scored played the front nine — their finishing holes — at even par or better.
Santoso was 2 under after the turn and finished with a 70. Petra Salko was even-par over the final nine holes to finish at 2-over 74. And in a marvelous recovery from a first round of 81, Marcella Pranovia was 3 under in a bogey free final nine holes Saturday, to finish at 1-over 73.
Pranovia started to see the ghosts of her first round after finish double bogey, bogey, bogey before the turn Saturday. She responded with a birdie at No. 1, and two more over the rest of her day.
“It was frustrating,” Pranovia said. “But I thought to myself, I can keep being miserable for the next nine holes and shoot 84. Or I can turn my attitude around and play better golf. So I did.”
The Ducks entered Saturday on an emotional high, after holding their postseason banquet Friday night. Typically it would occur after the tournament, but with so many friends and family in town because Oregon is hosting this week, Scott scheduled it mid-tournament.
“We had an incredible turnout, and it turned out to be a great team bonding night for us — unexpectedly,” Scott said. “It always is, but I’ve never had one in the middle of the national championship. It really affirmed how much we enjoy each other as a team, and how much we appreciate each other in this program.”
The key now is to make sure the celebration continues. Scott says she’s confident her Ducks won’t be satisfied with Saturday’s fireworks, or take Sunday for granted.
Inglis backed up her coach on that point.
“Tomorrow is a whole new day,” Inglis said. “You can’t go out and think, oh, I just shot 65 so I’m going to do that again. It’s golf; you never know what’s going to happen. It’s about having no expectations, and good intentions — like coach Ria always says.”