TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Duke took a six-stroke lead over defending champion Southern California on Thursday in the third round of the NCAA Women's Golf Championship, and the Blue Devils' Celine Boutier tied the Trojans' Doris Chen atop the individual standings.
Duke matched top-ranked Southern California with a 2-under 278 to reach 16-over 856. Second-round leader Oklahoma struggled to an 11-over 291 to drop into third at 26 over. UCLA was fourth at 27 over, followed by Mississippi State at 30 over, and Arizona, Arizona State and North Carolina State at 31 over.
Boutier led Duke with a 3-under 67 to match Chen at 3-under 207. Chen had a 68. Iowa State's Chonlada Chayunun, Michigan State's Alysssa Ferrell and Stanford's Lauren Kim were even par.
The Blue Devils four counting players had five birdies on the final four holes. Yu Liu shot 68, Alejandra Cangrejo 71, Latitia Beck 72 and Sandy Choi 74. The top four of five scores count in the team total.
"I was watching on 14 and we made several bogeys there and I knew USC was closing in," said Duke coach Dan Brooks, seeking the school's sixth national championship — including 1999 in the hail-shortened event at Tulsa Country Club. "We made some good birdies on the closing holes that were big for us.
"The girls played very well today. The wind blew again, but it was a little more predictable and not as gusty. They stayed patient. We had our share of mistakes and some went in the water, but they recovered emotionally and it was great."
In addition to Chen's 68, USC counted a Kyung Kim's 67, Sophia Popov's 70 and Karen Chung's 73. Defending NCAA champion Annie Park shot 76.
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