Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 10, 2014

Cowgirls have work to do in regional

Jayde Panos is making up for lost time with the Oklahoma State women’s golf team.

Panos had spent the past four weeks on the sidelines nursing an ankle injury — which included missing the Big 12 Conference Championship, which led to the Cowgirls finishing seventh — before returning to the course for this week’s NCAA Division I Women’s Central Regional at Karsten Creek.

With several Cowgirls struggling on the home course, Panos has kept the Lady Pokes on pace with the field by following up her first-round score of 73 with a 2-under 70 — which has her tied for third.

“I really wanted to play Big 12s, but my injury didn’t permit that. So I’m really happy to be out here competing,” Panos said. “... It’s a bit stiff, but it’s been manageable. So there hasn’t been any pain, which is good.”

With most teams having an up and down day — including reigning national champion Alabama falling from a commanding lead to a tie for third, four strokes behind UCLA — Panos managed to finish on the upside. The Cowgirl senior from Australia closed with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

“It’s always hard to keep momentum around Karsten Creek because you can have a lot of ups and downs with the bush and all that,” Panos said. “So it was nice to be able to make putts that just kept the momentum and hit fairways when I needed to.

“Birdieing 17 (the second-hardest hole on the course) is always nice. I’ll always take a birdie on that hole any day.”

Panos didn’t have the low score of the day for OSU, however. That number went to freshman Isabella Deilert, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, with a round of 69 to land her in a tie for 10th.

“To have Bella come in and shoot 3-under today and Jayde to post the number she did, that’s big,” Cowgirl coach Courtney Jones said. “Everybody’s counting on them. We’re acting like a team in that way, that we’re having people step up is what we need.”

The top scores for Oklahoma State — which is tied with Mississippi State for eighth, but is on the outside looking in based on the tiebreaker — were very much needed, too. The Cowgirls, who started the second round in fifth, have slipped to a tie for eighth with Lauren Falley shooting a 78 and Julie Yang carding an 81 — while Amy Ruengmateekhun’s 82 did not count towards the team score.

“Golf is a tough game, so everybody’s fighting,” Jones said. “You have to stay patient. ... I think all the girls did a good job of staying patient, especially at a course like this where it really requires that.”

Conditions were ripe for a solid round for golfers on Friday after Thursday’s opening round was muddled by rain and wind. TCU’s Sanna Nuutinen — competing as an individual — carded the best round with a 67, while Deilert’s 69 tied for second-best with Kansas’ Yupaporn Kawinpakorn and Regina Plasencia of Arkansas.

Oklahoma State will return to the course at 7:30 a.m., and will be paired with Arizona and Mississippi State — OSU’s two closest competitors for the final qualifying spots. The Cowgirls must finish in the top eight in order to compete in the NCAA championships at Tulsa Country Club in two weeks.

“We have a lot of ability on our team, so if we just play smart and take our medicine where we need to and play how we know we can, I don’t think we’ll have a problem (qualifying) at all,” Panos said.

Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater News Press

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