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May 12, 2006

Browns Summit, N.C. – The No. 23 South Carolina women’s golf team is in ninth place after two rounds at the NCAA East Regional Championships played at Bryan Park, as the Gamecocks are 17 strokes over par with a 296-297=593. LSU leads the field at even par.

In order to advance to the NCAA Championship, the Gamecocks will need to finish among the top eight teams at the Regional, and that scenario remains a very real possibility as Carolina is just one stroke behind North Carolina, two strokes behind Arizona State, four strokes behind Wake Forest and five strokes behind Alabama in a very tight race to finish in the top eight spots heading into Saturday’s final round.

Carolina was led Friday by senior Erica Battle, junior Jenna Pearson and sophomore Blythe Worley, all of whom came in at two-over par. Battle, who shot an even-par 72 in Thursday’s first round, paces the Gamecocks on the individual leader board, as the Irmo native enters the final round tied for 17th, seven strokes behind tournament leader Jenny Suh from Alabama. Battle was very steady for the majority of the day, finishing with 13 birdies. She found herself at even par through her first 10 holes, but a double-bogey on her 12th hole pushed her two strokes over par. She regrouped on the very next hole to knock in a birdie, and shot par on five of her last six holes with only one bogey to finish at two over for the day.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for Carolina at Regionals has been the play of sophomore Laura Raffo, who is tied for 31st on the individual leader board at three over. Raffo’s 73-75=148 is the lowest 36-hole score of her collegiate career and is well below the 78.43 stroke average she carried with her into Regional play. With seven pars and one birdie through her first eight holes Friday, Raffo put herself in a position to be successful, but a run of four consecutive bogeys on the next four holes pushed her to three over par for the day. She settled down to achieve par on each of her next six holes.

Worley has also stepped up her game during Regionals and is tied for 35th on the individual leader board heading into Saturday’s final round with a 75-74=149 (+5). The sophomore from Greenville, N.C., was as steady as any Carolina player in the second round, shooting par on 14 holes during the day. Worley’s birdie on her seventh hole of the day was countered off by a bogey two holes later, and a pair of bogeys on the back nine nudged her to two over for the round. Similar to Raffo, Worley’s current 36-hole score is by far the best of her career and is well below her 77.33 stroke average.

Pearson shaved two strokes off her first round total and finds herself tied for 42nd with a 76-74=150 (+6). One of the Gamecocks’ leading players during the season, Pearson knocked in a pair of birdies and four bogeys to go with 12 pars on the day.

Rounding out the action for Carolina was sophomore Whitney Simons, who is tied for 91st with a 76-80=156.

Final round action is set for Saturday.

Team Leader Board
1. LSU: 288-288=576 (E)
2. Tennessee: 292-286=578 (+2)
3. California: 288-295=583 (+7)
4. Florida State: 297-289=586 (+10)
5. Alabama: 295-293=588 (+12)
6. Wake Forest: 296-293=589 (+13)
7. Arizona State: 307-284=591 (+15)
8. North Carolina: 296-296=592 (+16)
9. South Carolina: 296-297=593 (+17)
10. Auburn: 293-301=594 (+18)
T11. Virginia: 303-293=596 (+20)
T11. Vanderbilt: 296-300=596 (+20)
13. Maryland: 305-294=599 (+23)
T14. College of Charleston: 309-292=601 (+25)
T14. Augusta State: 308-293=601 (+25)
T16. NC State: 303-301=604 (28)
T16. Yale: 308-296=604 (+28)
18. Furman: 298-308=606 (+30)
19. East Carolina: 313-295=608 (+32)
20. Campbell: 308-302=610 (+34)
21. Mississippi State: 313-304=617 (+41)

Gamecocks On The Individual Leader Board
T17. Erica Battle: 72-74=146 (+2)
T31. Laura Raffo: 73-75=148 (+4)
T35. Blythe Worley: 75-74=149 (+5)
T42. Jenna Pearson: 76-74=150 (+6)
T91. Whitney Simons: 76-80=156 (+12)