Originally published Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 08:45p.m.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Embry-Riddle’s women’s golf team didn’t gain ground on the frontrunners in the second round of the NAIA Championship Wednesday at PGA National, dropping one spot and into a tie for ninth place.

However, the Eagles did qualify for the third round today, May 24, as one of the tournament’s Top 17 teams, firing a 321 in Round 2 for a +64 total (319-321 – 640).

“We’re proud we made the cut, and now it’s putting our best two rounds together and finishing as high as we can,” Embry-Riddle coach Kim Haddow said. “We’re excited. A lot of golf ahead of us.”

After a windy day without the anticipated thunderstorms, ERAU trailed first-place and NAIA No. 1-ranked Savannah College of Art & Design (Ga.), which tallied a +30 total (300-306 – 606) after Round 2, by 34 strokes.

“We all had it going for a great round [Wednesday], and then we had a few little blips,” Haddow said. “I don’t think we feel like we’ve played our best golf yet, and we’re excited to get up [Thursday] and get out and play the course and see if we can’t put it all together.”

Cal-Pac Conference champion and defending NAIA runner-up Embry-Riddle tees off today at 5:45 a.m. Arizona time and will also play in Friday’s fourth and final round.

In the individual standings on Wednesday, Jessica Williams again paced the No. 13-ranked Eagles, although she dipped from a tie for 17th place on Tuesday to a tie for 28th.

“[Wednesday] the weather was a lot better [than the rains on Tuesday],” Williams said. “It was sunny and a little breezy, but the course had dried out a lot, and so I had a lot of wedges into greens.

“The course was playing a little bit shorter, so it’s easy to kind of get a short club in your hand and feel like you should be making birdie. With the putting, and still kind of struggling with reading and pace, you get a little more frustrated because you know how close you are into the green.”

Williams carded an 80 in the second round and headed into the third round with a +13 total (77-80 – 157) on the par-72, 5,847-yard Champion Course.

“She had it down to even par, one or two over, and then we had some putting issues,” Haddow said. “I know it’s right there. We’re going to get up and get used to the greens the best we can before we tee off [Thursday] morning.”

Savannah Art & Design’s Maria Paula Otero entered the third round in first place by one stroke with a 148 total (+4; 75-73).

Elle Carlson (T-40th with a 79-81, +16), Trae Jones (T-60th with an 81-82, +19), Nicole Lopes (T-76th with an 87-78, +21) and Megan Hessil (T-106th with an 82-88, +26) followed for Embry-Riddle.

“We’re playing the course as best we can, but around the greens there’s an issue,” Williams added. “But now we know the holes really well, and we know exactly where we want to go and don’t want to go. We’re really, really close to firing on all cylinders and getting our best golf in.”


Following today’s third round, the 2018 NAIA Women’s Golf Championship concludes with the fourth and final round on Friday, May 25, at PGA National.

Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.