USC extends lead in NCAA women's golf

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- Southern California shot even-par 288 to extend its lead to seven over Alabama in the lightning-delayed NCAA women's golf championships Wednesday.

Play in the afternoon was halted twice by lightning and later stopped by heavy rain with 27 golfers on the course.

The second round will be completed Thursday morning before the third round begins at the Country Club of Landfall.

The Pac-10 is dominating the competition. Six teams from the conference are in the field, and four are in the top six in the standings. Arizona, in sixth place, shot the only under-par round Wednesday with a 2-under 286.

Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson shot 2-under-par 70 to take a one-shot lead over USC's Jennifer Song in the individual competition. Johnson, at 7-under 137 for two rounds, had four birdies and one bogey on her first 10 holes. She parred the next seven holes before bogeying her final hole, the par-4 ninth.

Song overcame a double bogey on the seventh hole to shoot 71.

Four golfers, including first-round co-leader Maude-Aimee LeBlanc of Purdue, trail Johnson by three shots.

Southern Cal is trying for its third NCAA title. In each of its previous championships, 2003 and 2008, USC was the wire-to-wire winner.

Purdue is in third place, eight shots back. Top-ranked UCLA is 10 shots behind, followed by defending champion Arizona State (11 shots) and Arizona (12).

The 72-hole tournament at the 6,368-yard Pete Dye course is scheduled to end Friday.

South Carolina improved by three strokes over their first round performance in Wednesday's second round at the NCAA Championship, posting a 9-over-par 297 at the Country Club of Landfall Dye Course. The team is in 16th place with the second round not yet complete.

The Gamecocks finished at a good time - around 1 p.m. - as the tournament was halted shortly thereafter due to thunderstorms in the area. Play resumed briefly around 2:45 p.m., then was suspended again at 3:28 with another storm passing through. The round resumed again at 4:17 p.m. only to be halted with more rain just before 7:30 p.m. With six teams still on the course, the second round will restarted at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

South Carolina's morning tee time was beneficial in more ways than one - a course softened by early-morning rain led to receptive greens and more opportunities for birdies and pars. The Gamecocks took advantage, carding nine birdies on the day and playing holes 10-13 - the portion of the course that caused the most trouble Tuesday - in just 4-over par.

It was freshman Amanda Strang leading the way in the second round with a 1-over-par 73 that included 15 pars. Starting on the back nine, she birdied the tricky par-5 12th to get to 1-under, then made the turn at even par after a bogey at the 16th. The Sweden native would drop to 1-over with bogey at No. 2, but then recorded seven straight pars down the stretch to finish at 1-over. She is tied for 46th place with the second round still incomplete.

Katie Burnett had another solid round with a 74 (+2) to stay near the top 20. She played a bogey-free first nine with birdies at 11 and 18 to make the turn at 2-under and on a roll. But a drive out of bounds at No. 3 led to double-bogey, and back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7 dropped the Brunswick, Ga., sophomore to 2-over.

The team's three seniors all showed improvement as they were a combined four strokes better on day two. Corrine Carr showed her resolve by fighting back from an early hole to post three straight birdies at one point, finishing with a 75 (+3). After some tough pin placements contributed to bogeys at 11, 13 and 14, she stuck her approach to three feet at the 17th to make birdie, then played the 18th nearly perfectly to claim another birdie as she made the turn. A third straight birdie at No. 1 got her back to even par, but she would give two back on the next hole with a double-bogey. Carr would par six of the last seven holes with a bogey at No. 6 the only blemish down the stretch.

Benedicte Toumpsin bettered her first-round total by two shots with a 75 (+3) that saw her also battle back from early trouble. Toumpsin was 5-over through her first five holes and seemingly reeling early in the day, but she would find her game starting with a birdie at the 15th. Three pars from there made her 4-over at the turn, and birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 - both par 5s - got her back to 2-over. She made bogey at the eighth before par at her final hole to finish at 2-over for the day.

Carolina's third senior, York native Taylor Barrett, was extremely consistent in her second round with a 14-par, four-bogey effort that led to a 76 (+4), improving by a shot over what was her best-ever NCAA Championship round on Tuesday. She made the turn at 3-over after bogeys at 10, 14 and 16, then made another at the par-3 second. But Barrett would post seven straight pars to close her second round.

The tournament's top six teams are likely set after all finished their rounds before play was halted. Southern California maintained its lead with an even-par day, and the Trojans are at 570 (-6), seven shots ahead of SEC Champion Alabama at 577 (+1). Purdue is in third place at 578 (+2), followed by UCLA (+4), Arizona State (+5) and Arizona (+6). Individually, Arizona State's Jennifer Johnson (-7) holds a one-shot lead over Southern Cal's Jennifer Song (-6), with four players tied for third at 4-under.

Tee times for Thursday's third round will not be set until the second round concludes, which should be around 8:30 a.m. The third round will begin approximately one hour following the end of round two. Full information will be updated on GamecocksOnline.com as soon as it becomes available.

Live scoring for the remainder of the championship is available through Golfstat.com, and fans can receive periodic updates via Twitter by following @GamecockWGolf. In addition, live streaming video of holes 16 through 18 will be available for the final two rounds through NCAA.com. T