By supper time on Tuesday, Vanderbilt was finished stewing over its awful first day.
Then the Commodores received unexpected encouragement in the form of a text message. Former Vanderbilt standout and current PGA Tour star Brandt Snedeker asked coach Greg Allen to pass along his words of support.
“We got a nice text from Brandt [Tuesday] telling the girls to keep their heads up and that it’s a marathon and not a sprint; to take it one round at a time,” Allen said. “They obviously responded to that.”
Rejuvenated and motivated, the Commodores asserted themselves back into the thick of things during the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship on Wednesday at Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin.
Vanderbilt shot the second-lowest round of the day, a 4-under 284, and climbed 12 spots into 10th place with two rounds remaining. At 14-over par, the Commodores sit two shots behind Purdue, three back of LSU and five away from seventh-place Southern Cal. Tennessee fell back five places to 21st.
Alabama continued to pull away from the 24-team field. The Crimson Tide shot 3-under for the day, moving to 5-under overall. Paced by individual leader and Chattanooga native Brooke Pancake (-6), they are 11 strokes ahead of UCLA, North Carolina and Virginia.
For the Commodores to be in the hunt seemed unthinkable on Tuesday night after they opened with an 18-over par 306 on their home course.
“Shocked,” Allen said of the first round. “That wasn’t the team we saw at Ohio State [in a regional]. That wasn’t the team we’ve seen all week preparing for this. We talked about it [Tuesday] that the anticipation is over, got a round behind us and now let’s just go play golf. They responded.”
Junior Lauren Stratton and senior Marina Alex played like national title contenders in the second round. They got into a nine-way tie for 16th at 1-over par.
Stratton, a native of nearby Spring Hill, moved up 28 spots with a 2-under par 70.
Alex took an even bigger leap. A dreadful first-round score of 5-over 77 left her into a tie for 85th. She recorded four birdies for a 4-under 68 in round two, and freshman Kendall Martindale finished tied for 32nd at 3-over.
The Commodores played much better on the back nine, which wreaked havoc the day before with a score of 13-over. Starting on the 10th hole with an early morning tee time on Wednesday, they shot a five-under on holes 10 through 18. They ended the round in an impressive fashion with four birdies on the ninth and final hole.
Vanderbilt begins the third round at 12:03 p.m. on Thursday.
“We’ve been in a hole many times before,” Stratton said. “We get three more days to dig ourselves out of that hole. We know this course like the back of our hand. We put our best foot forward. [Wednesday] was a great start in the right direction."