LAKELAND – After a 298 in the first round gave Barry a narrow 2-shot lead over Florida Southern and a 4-shot lead over Rollins and Saint Leo, the Buccaneers were able to widen the gap somewhat with an even better score in the second round. The Bucs' 295 in the afternoon allowed them to open up a 5-shot lead over Rollins, with Saint Leo falling seven back and Florida Southern nine off the pace with one round remaining in the 19th annual Lady Moc Classic at Grasslands Golf and Country Club.
Featuring some of the best Division II programs in the country, the scores were strong across the board Monday with outstanding weather for the tournament's 18 teams and 98 golfers. Seven teams had at least one round of 300 or better and another missed that mark by just one shot. Barry was the only one, however, to break 300 in each round, giving the Buccaneers a 2-round total of 593 (+17). Rollins and Saint Leo, which had scores of 302 in the first round, both broke 300 in the second round, and host Florida Southern had a 300 and 302. The top seven teams were separated by 15 shots, and two through six were only six shots apart.
A well-balanced field saw only one team have more than one golfer in the top-10 of the player standings, with Seminole State putting two among that group. The Raiders though had no one else higher than 49th. Leading the way was Barry sophomore Tilda Larsson, the top-ranked player in Division II who had rounds of 70 and 73 on Monday, giving her a one-under par 143 for the day. She's only the third golfer in the tournament's history to go into the final round with an under-par score, and though each of the previous two went on to win, neither of them were able to stay under par.
Larsson birdied six holes in the first round on her way to a 70, but she was nearly caught in round two by Rollins' Paige Lyle, who picked up four birdies in the afternoon for a second-round 71. Those were two of the three best rounds of the day, with Flagler's Lara Ardler shooting a 70 in round two to match Larsson's first-round number.
The 71 by Lyle left her just one stroke behind Larsson at day's end, but three other golfers were within two strokes at one-over par 145. One of those was Florida Southern freshman Amanda Gartrell, who had team-best scores of 73 and 72 in her first Lady Moc Classic. She was especially strong on the par-fives where she played at four-under for the day, and her seven total birdies were tied for second on the tournament stat sheet, just one fewer than Larsson.
Florida Southern's second counter in round one was sophomore Madison Wetzel who came in with a season-best three-over par 75. She also had her best score of last season at the Lady Moc Classic when she finished as the Mocs' top golfer. Wetzel added a 76 in the second round Monday to finish the day with a 149, which tied her for 22nd place.
Sophomore Tori Higgins was the Mocs' second counter in round two with a 75 of her own. She parred or birdied her final 10 holes of the day to finish in a tie for 32nd place with an overall score of 154.
Junior Abbey Williams and fifth-year senior Shannon McKew were both counters in round one with matching scores of 76, but slipped to 79 and 80 in the afternoon. Williams was on her way to another possible 76 before the final two holes, and McKew stumbled a bit on the back nine as well. For the day, Williams had a 155, tied for 37th, and McKew had a 156, tied for 41st. Only one other team in the tournament though got a better total from their fifth-place golfer, with Nova Southeastern's Sophie Madden turning in a 154.
In addition to the 18 teams, there were nine golfers playing as individuals, including three Moccasins. Leading that group of nine was senior Britta Bernth who carded rounds of 79 and 76 to put her in a tie for 37th with a total score of 155. That was two strokes better than the next best individual, Katrina Wang of Nova Southeastern who had the unusual scoring line of 85 and 72.
The final round of the Lady Moc Classic begins Tuesday morning with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.