(Team photo and tournament information courtesy of Ohio State Athletics Department. Tournament scoring and statistics courtesy of Golfstat)
Round 1 of the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge is in the books. For Round 2, played Monday, the Buckeyes sought to improve their standings in the 15 team field.
Format: The familiar “play 5, count 4” with teams also fielding players participating as Individuals.
Ohio State lineup
First the good news. The team shot a 291 (+7), a significant improvement over their opening round. The bad news is that a lot of other teams improved their scoring in round 2, so the Buckeyes are still sitting in 12th place.
I had hoped they would improve 3-4 positions, but the rising tide of improved scored raised all ships. Scores were 1 stroke per round better in round 2 than round 1, so a team’s expected improvement would be 5 strokes. Ohio State improved 7 strokes, so that’s a bonus.
The Buckeyes were led by Jaclyn Lee’s 71 (E). Jessica Porvasnik rebounded from her first day blahs to shoot 72 (+1, a 6 stroke improvement). Katja Pogacar and Niki Schroeder again matched scores, with each shooting 74 (+3) while Rio Watanabe rounding out the team scoring with a 75 (+5). Jaclyn’s 2nd round score has moved her up to 18th place after two rounds.
Competing as Individuals, Zoe-Beth Brake shot her second consecutive 74 (+3). Alex Wright improved 2 shots to shoot a 76 (+5) while Adeena Shears held steady with her second consecutive 78 (+7).
Note: the scoring stats in the following two paragraphs are for team play only. They are cumulative through two rounds. Individual play scores are not included.
For two rounds, Ohio State has played the par 3’s to an average of 3.25 strokes, +10 to par, which ranked them 11th in that category. They’ve played the par-4’s to 4.16, +18 to par, ranking 8th. The par 5’s were played to 5.17, +2 to par, ranking them 15th. In the 2nd round, they played the par-3’s not quite as well as the 1st round, the par 4’s significantly better and the par 5’s a little better.
That they played the par 4’s significantly better was instrumental to their improved play. With the par 4’s accounting for 60% of the holes played, any improvement here will have a profound impact on the scoring. In contrast to the team getting bludgeoned in the 1st round by the par-4 14th hole (+6), they played it even par in the 2nd round.
In the 1st round, Ohio State ranked first with 67 pars in team play. On Monday, they carded another 52 pars; their total of 119 still ranks them 1st in this metric. Through two rounds, the Buckeyes have 17 birdies. Although they rank near the bottom in this metric, that they scored 15 of them in the 2nd round is a good sign.
Ohio State began their round on the 10th hole. Let’s see how the players did:
Jessica double bogeyed her 2nd hole (hole #11) and I thought “Uh oh”. However, she scored 4 birdies, including back-to-back on holes #1-#2. That she had a 6 shot improvement from the 1st round is an impressive bounce-back.
Jaclyn double bogeyed her first hole (what’s going on here?) was “steady as she goes” settled in with 7 consecutive pars, then birdied 5 of the next 10 holes!
In the 1st round, Katja stumbled closing out her front 9 with 2 bogeys. In the 2nd round, she closed out her front 9 with birdies on 2 of 3 holes to shoot -2. She stalled a bit on her back 9, but that good of a front 9 eases a lot of frustration.
Niki had 2 birdies on her front 9, wandered around with five bogeys in the next nine holes, then closed with four pars. She and Rio were the only Buckeyes to not have a double bogey; this was a well controlled round of golf.
Rio had a fine +1 on her front 9. She bogeyed four of her first five holes on the back 9, got fed up, and played her final four holes in -1. As mentioned above, Rio was one of two Buckeyes (Niki) to have no double bogeys.
Zoe-Beth had an interesting round. She had two double bogeys and sat at +6 through fourteen holes. This evidently annoyed her so she birdied 3 of her 4 closing holes.
Adeena rolled in 2 birdies but also 3 double bogeys. She had a helpful 10 pars to right the ship. Once the freshman learns how to triage the bad holes, I think she’ll be good. Really good.
Alex had a tough start to her round. She was +6 through eight holes (not good). She stabilized the patient by playing her final ten holes in -1. Once she got her rhythm, it was all good.
Look, the Buckeyes aren’t going to jump many places up the leaderboard. That’s just how the play of this field is shaking out. For some context, in last yer’s event, Ohio State finished 11th of 16 teams, shooting a team total of 909 strokes. They are currently T-12 of 15 teams, so that hasn’t changed much. However, if they play the 3rd round even remotely as well as they did their 2nd round, they can come in with a team total well under last season’s.
The other thing I noticed is that all the players, both those playing for the team score and as Individuals have picked up the level of play. In the Fall session, the leading players were Pogacar & Porvasnik. One or the other finished as the top OSU scorer in every Fall event. Now, perhaps Jaclyn Lee will make her mark. Rio and Zoe-Beth, upperclassmen who did not have a good Fall, appear to be rounding into form. Younger players (Niki, Adeena and Alex) seem to be getting their golf “legs”. Although a finish near the top of the leaderboard is unlikely, this event looks to be a good springboard for the balance of the Spring season.