FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The 10th-ranked Texas A&M women's golf team carded a 12-over-par 300 on Thursday and climbed to 14th place with one round remaining at the 2012 NCAA Championship at Vanderbilt Legends Club North Course.
All 24 teams in the championship were over par for the third round, including the leader Alabama, who shot an 18-over 306. The Crimson Tide (877, +13) saw their 11-stroke lead dwindle to just two shots, making the final round the determining factor in crowning the 2012 NCAA National Champion.
With a 54-hole score of 35-over 899 (301-298-300), the Aggies are looking up at second-place Southern California (879), Purdue (883), South Carolina (883), Virginia (883), LSU (884), North Carolina (885), Arizona State (887), UCLA (888), Oklahoma (888), Duke (892), Florida (892) and North Carolina State (898).
Rounding out the team standings are Colorado (900), Michigan State (901), Vanderbilt (901), Pepperdine (903), Baylor (903), Texas (905), Arkansas (913), Tennessee (914), Ohio State (915) and Stanford (920).
"The girls are in better spirits and it felt better today," A&M head coach Trelle McCombs said. "We made several clutch putts and I didn't see them play scared. Tomorrow, I'm looking for the same sort of aggressiveness that we had today. With a little help from the other teams, we might be able to make a little run to the top 10, we'll see what happens."
A highlight from A&M's third round came from freshman Patricia Garcia when she posted the Aggies' first eagle of the championship on her final hole.
"I hit an amazing drive," Garcia said of the par-5, 455-yard ninth hole. "I told myself to just hit the ball in the fairway because there were some bunkers on the right. Then, I had 217 to the flag and I needed to bounce it a little in front, so I hit my 3-wood with a little bit of a draw. I just wanted to put the ball on the green. I got there and it was an 8-footer. I knew I needed to make the put, and it felt really good."
Garcia shot a 3-over 75 on Thursday and is tied for 50th with 225 (76-74-75).
Sophomore Katerina Ruzickova stayed steady and turned in A&M's best individual score of the day with a 2-over 74. She is tied for 11th with 219 (73-72-74) and trails the individual co-leaders (Oklahoma's Chirapat Jao-Javanil and Arizona State's Giulia Molinaro with 4-over 212s) by seven shots.
A&M will play with North Carolina State and Colorado for Friday's final round and tees off from the first hole at 8:25 a.m. (CT). Live streaming of holes 9 and 18 and live scoring and can be found at NCAA.com. Also follow the Aggies with live updates on Twitter @AggieWomensGolf.