MARICOPA, Ariz. – In a day where red figures were hard to come by across the board, the Penn State Nittany Lions fired the second lowest team total of the day posting a 9-over, 297, and remain atop the leaderboard following Saturday’s second round of the National Golf Invitational at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, Arizona.
Penn State (9-over) leads Santa Clara (14-over) by five strokes entering Sunday’s final round while Iowa (15-over), Mercer (17-over) and UC-Riverside (18-over) round out the top five.
Sophomore Michelle Cox (Allentown, Pa.) was one of just four individuals in red figures as she backed up her opening round 67 with a 1-under, 71, on Saturday highlighted by her second eagle of the week, this time on the par-5 16th hole. Cox is currently 6-under and holds the 36-hole lead, two shots clear of Iowa’s Shannyn Vogler.
“Today was tougher, so I’m proud of everyone for hanging in there. We put ourselves in a great position as a team entering tomorrow’s final round,” mentioned Cox. “I took a more aggressive line off the tee on the 16th today and then flushed a six iron to about 10 feet and made the putt.”
Senior Isha Dhruva (Katy, Texas) carded her second-straight even-par, 72, to slide into a tie for fourth in the 49-player field entering Sunday’s final round. Dhruva had a team-best fiove birdies on the day and now has eight for the week.
Senior Sarah Willis (Eaton, Ohio) also moved up the leaderboard on Saturday following a 1-over, 73, as she currently sits tied for 14th at 4-over for the weekend. Willis went out in 1-under sandwiching a bogey between a pair of birdies. She then opened the back nine with three-straight bogeys before righting the ship with a birdie on the par-5 13th holes and parred out to close her round.
Sophomore Drew Nienhaus (St. Louis, Mo.) and senior Taylor Waller (Canonsburg, Pa.) rounded out the day with scores of 81 and 82, respectively.
“The course setup today was definitely tougher which could explain the higher scores across the board,” commented head coach Denise St. Pierre. “We had great play from Michelle, Isha and Sarah that helped keep us at the top of the leaderboard. I love that Michelle was able to put yesterday’s successful round behind her and come right back with another under-par effort, she is gritty!”
The Nittany Lions wrap up their 2022-23 season tomorrow…
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