LAKE ELMO, Minn. – Lauren Walsh stepped to the tee knowing she had a special round going.
The senior for Wake Forest knew the closing stretch at Royal Golf Club outside of Minneapolis provided multiple birdie opportunities. A short par 4. Two par 5s. After birdieing five of her past six holes, Walsh had an opportunity to go even lower.
“I made bogey on 15, which was plenty frustrating,” Walsh said while cracking a smile, “and then I missed a short birdie putt on 16. so I was determined to birdie one of the last two.”
And she did just that, bringing a loud cheer from her three teammates sitting greenside.
Walsh fired a 6-under 66, tied for low round of the day, to help propel herself and Wake Forest up the leaderboard during Tuesday’s second round of the ANNIKA Intercollegiate. The Demon Deacons, third in Golfweek‘s preseason women’s college team rankings, moved up four spots to second on the team leaderboard after a 9-under performance but still trail Virginia heading to Wednesday’s final round. Walsh sits tied for second place at 5 under for the tournament, and Emilia Migliaccio shot 4 under on the day and moved up to 2 under overall.
ANNIKA Intercollegiate: Score
“Today gives us a lot of confidence moving forward,” Walsh said “We’ve all worked hard on our games over the summer at home. To come back together and see some good scores is always good.”
The 2022-23 Wake Forest women’s golf team at the 2022 ANNIKA Intercollegiate. (Photo: Taylor Britton, ANNIKA Foundation)
Wake Forest at one point was in a three-way tie for first with Virginia and South Carolina, which won last season’s tournament. But the Demon Deacons teed off before the Cavaliers and Gamecocks, and there was plenty of leaderboard shuffling before the conclusion of the second round.
Royal Golf Club played almost two strokes easier during the second round Tuesday compared to the first round. The five most difficult holes come on the front nine through two rounds, according to Golfstat. Meanwhile, of the six holes playing under par, four come on the back nine, with three of the four being Nos. 15, 17 and 18.
Virginia finished strong, as it leads following the second straight round at 9 under, six strokes ahead of Wake Forest. Sophomore Amanda Sambach, who shot 7-under 65 in the first round, is at 11 under for the tournament after a second-round 4-under 68 that included birdies on three of her final four holes. She leads by six strokes in the individual competition.
“The team stayed really patient on the front,” Virginia coach Ria Scott said. “There’s a stretch of really challenging holes. They did a great job of sticking to what they were doing and waiting for the opportunities on the back.”
South Carolina fell back after holding the lead alone about halfway through the second round. Mathilde Claisse and Hannah Darling both moved into the top five on the leaderboard, as the duo are tied for second with Walsh. Claisse was 5 under on the day, and Darling tied Walsh for low round of the day at 6-under 66. The Gamecocks are at 2 under, one behind Wake Forest and seven behind Virginia.
Duke had a strong back nine and sits at even par, tied with Michigan for fourth. Phoebe Brinker had four birdies, including three straight, on the back nine and she’s tied for seventh on the leaderboard at 3 under. Freshman Andie Smith birdied six holes on her back nine and shot 3 under for the day.
Florida’s Maisie Filler also finished strong, making birdie on her final three holes to finish 5 under in the second round. Filler is at 3 under for the tournament, in a tie for seventh. Michigan’s Monet Chun and Texas’ Bohyun Park are tied for fifth at 4 under. Auburn’s Megan Schofill is tied for ninth with Migliaccio at 2 under, rounding out the top 10.
Golfweek’s Best 2022: Top 40 Campus Courses
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek