SEDONA, Ariz. – As has been the case all spring, sophomore Sofia Anokhina was nothing short of spectacular for the Northern Arizona University golf team during the first two rounds at the Red Rocks Invitational Saturday, recording the lowest 36-hole score in both tournament and program history (7-under-par 137). She is currently all alone in first-place by a single stroke heading into tomorrow's third round.
The long day consisting of two rounds ended with the Lumberjack squad in second-place after turning in a 17-over 593 score for the day. In fact, that two-round team total is the eight-best ever logged in NAU history. The Lumberjacks find themselves seven strokes back of first-place Toledo and with Seattle (20-over 592) hot on their tails.
"It was the kind of performance we come to expect from our golfers," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "There are still areas to be worked on, but the stamina and determination our athletes showed throughout the day is something we can really build on."
Anokhina, who came in averaging a round score of 72.00 this spring, actually tied a personal-best 3-under 69 in the first set of 18 before subsequently topping that mark with a 4-under 68 during the second round. That latter mark for Anokhina today is the tied for No. 2 in NAU history on the all-time single round scoring list.
"I walked the last three holes with her, and she knew exactly where she stood the entire time," said Graduate Assistant Coach Langley Vannoy. "I just told her to take it one shot at a time, and she hit a bomb of a drive on No. 18 and tapped in for birdie. She was so happy and confident, so in control of her game, it was fun to watch."
Coach Bedortha and Coach Vannoy have been adamant that the entire team has been getting better and better at each tournament, and the defense of those sentiments were on display Saturday.
For one, Kaitlyn Saum hasn't been herself this spring—recording an average of 78.33 in six rounds of play—but turned the tide of that narrative quickly today. The Lumberjack junior who calls Mesa, Ariz., home generated a spring-best 1-over 73 to start her day and ended her afternoon with a 36-hole total 3-over 147 score. She will tee off tomorrow's third and final round in ninth-place.
"Saum played really well today, and she showed us what she's capable of," said Vannoy. "You could see it today: she was finally trusting her new clubs and playing her own game. She wasn't stressed or worried…just confident the entire time."
"I feel like what we've been working on is finally coming to fruition," said Vannoy. "For us to play well in front of a lot of our fans and the brand of golf we want to play was exciting for me as a coach."
The third and final round of the Red Rocks Invite will tee off tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. MT. It will be an 18-hole round.