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No. 1 seed in a bit of trouble entering final day of NCAA women’s regionals

In the history of NCAA Division I women’s golf regionals, only one No. 1 seed has ever not advanced to nationals. That was UCLA in 2017, when there were just four regionals (there are six now) and the Bruins finished eighth in Lubbock, Texas, six shots shy of getting through.

That said, those Bruins could soon have company.

Top-seeded South Carolina sits in seventh place through 36 holes of the 12-team NCAA Auburn Regional. At 22 over, the Gamecocks are two shots out of the tie for fifth between Georgia and Tulsa. Only the top five teams after Wednesday’s final round at the University Club advance to next week’s NCAA Championship at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad, California.

The Gamecocks entered the postseason as the second-ranked team in the entire country. Their worst finish all year was fourth, and when it comes to momentum, South Carolina had it by winning the stroke-play portion of the SEC Championship before bowing out in the quarterfinals. Junior Hannah Darling had also been rolling, winning the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate to start a stretch of three straight top-6 finishes.

But Darling shot 5-over 77 Tuesday as South Carolina carded 17 over as a team, counting a 9-over 81 by Mia Sandtorv Lussand. Darling is T-25 on the individual leaderboard, ahead of four of her teammates; South Carolina subbed out freshman Maylis Lamoure after an opening 77, and her second-round replacement, Sophia Burnett, shot 73.

Senior Louise Rydqvist has been the only consistently bright spot for the Gamecocks, as she is in solo fourth at 1 under, two shots back of individual leader Moa Svedenskiold of Houston.

“The golf course is very difficult, it’s visually intimidating, definitely separates,” South Carolina coach Kalen Anderson said after the opening round. “We’re just going to have to play really disciplined golf. Birdies are hard to come by out there.”

South Carolina had 10 birdies on Tuesday; only Oregon (five) had fewer among teams in the top 7. The difference between the Ducks and the Gamecocks, however, is Oregon counted eight bogeys, a double and a quad while South Carolina counted 17 bogeys, a double, triple and quad.

Host Auburn is 14 shots clear of the field.

As for the No. 1 seeds elsewhere, three of them lead – USC by two in East Lansing, Michigan; Wake Forest by six in Bermuda Run, North Carolina; and Stanford by 12 in Cle Elum, Washington. The other two top seeds are in good shape – LSU is 12 shots inside the cut line in Bryan, Texas, where SMU leads; UCLA is five shots ahead of sixth in Las Vegas, where Arkansas is pacing the field by four shots.