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May 11, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The South Carolina women’s golf team posted a second-round 294 (+6) on Friday at the Penn State Golf Course to move one step closer to claiming its second NCAA East Regional title in three years.

The 25th-ranked Gamecocks have played steady golf for both rounds to build a seven-shot lead heading into the final day with a two-round total of 582 (+6). SEC foes Alabama and Florida are in second and third, respectively, with scores of 589 (+13) and 591 (+15). The top eight teams will advance to the NCAA Championship, and South Carolina has a 17-stroke cushion to secure one of those spots.

“We played solid golf today,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “It was a lot windier out than (Thursday). We held our position, and I’m pleased with our finish today. Building a cushion (to advance) is nice, but we’ve still got to get the job done tomorrow, watch that last putt fall and sign the scorecard. We have to stay mentally tough and stay patient and most of all stay committed on every shot that we hit.”

Along with playing for a regional title on Saturday, Carolina also has a pair of individuals in the hunt for medalist honors. Senior Katie Burnett led the charge on Friday with a 1-under 71, while freshman Justine Dreher carded a 1-over 73, as both finished the day in a tie for second with two-round scores of 143 (-1). They are three shots behind Texas A&M’s Katerina Ruzickova (140).

Burnett, whose last tournament win was the 2010 NCAA East Regional, was one of only 10 golfers to shoot under par on the day. She began to pick up steam down the stretch on the front nine as she made back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15. After a wayward drive on No. 16 resulted in a double bogey, the Brunswick, Ga., native bounced back with a chip-in birdie from the rough on the par-3 17th and a birdie at 18 to make the turn at 1-under. Burnett recorded two more birdies, two bogeys and five pars an even-par 36 on the back nine.

Dreher shook off a rough start to piece together a solid round for the second straight day. After making bogeys at holes 11 and 13 to begin the round, she settled down to finish the afternoon without another blemish on her scorecard. Dreher sank a birdie putt on the par-4 seventh and made par on her final two holes to head into the clubhouse at 1-over and in position to play for her first career win. Her career-best finish was a tie for 12th showing at the SEC Championship.

Juniors Amanda Strang and Meredith Swanson each shot a 3-over 75 for the Gamecocks. Strang, who is tied for 24th with a score of 148 (+4), recorded three birdies, six bogeys and nine pars for the day. She made a pair of birdies on the back nine, including a birdie putt from about 25 feet on the par-4 seventh. Swanson bounced back from Thursday’s 78 to move into a tie for 63rd with a total of 153 (+9). She overcame a bogey and a double bogey on the front side by recording three birdies to make the turn at even par. Swanson closed out the back nine with six pars and three bogeys.

Sophomore Suzie Lee is in a tie for 84th after turning in an 83 (+11) on Friday.

With the SEC holding on to the top three spots on the leaderboard, Texas A&M is in fourth with a score of 592 (+16), followed by Duke (595), Texas (596), Arizona (598) and Washington (599).

The Gamecocks are slated to begin Saturday’s final round at 8:36 a.m. on hole No. 1. Carolina will be paired with Alabama and Florida. Live scoring will be available at

T2. Katie Burnett 72-71=143 (-1)
T2. Justine Dreher 70-73=143 (-1)
T24. Amanda Strang 73-75=148 (+4)
T63. Meredith Swanson 78-75=153 (+9)
T84. Suzie Lee 73-83=156 (+12)

1. South Carolina 288-294=582 (+6)
2. Alabama 292-297=589 (+13)
3. Florida 294-297=591 (+15)
4. Texas A&M 296-296=592 (+16)
5. Duke 302-293=595 (+19)
6. Texas 296-300=596 (+20)
7. Arizona 302-296=598 (+22)
8. Washington 296-303=599 (+23)
9. Arizona State 303-298=601 (+25)
T10. Tulane 298-305=603 (+27)
T10. Campbell 313-290=603 (+27)
12. Michigan State 300-304=604 (+28)
T13. Oklahoma State 299-308=607 (+31)
T13. Augusta State 311-296=607 (+31)
T13. Kent State 306-301=607 (+31)
T16. UCF 301-307=608 (+32)
T16. Wake Forest 304-304=608 (+32)
T18. Maryland 303-307=610 (+34)
T18. San Diego State 311-299=610 (+34)
20. Northwestern 305-308=613 (+37)
21. Chattanooga 311-306=617 (+41)
22. Jacksonville St. 314-304=618 (+42)
23. Oral Roberts 327-315=642 (+66)
24. Long Island 324-321=645 (+69)