Macon, Ga. - Western Carolina senior Ashley Thompson and sophomore Natalia Villavicencio paced the short-handed Catamount side through Monday's first two rounds at the Idle Hour Collegiate as both sit tied for 10th-place with one round remaining. WCU is 11th with a two-round score of 614 (311-303), sitting just six strokes outside of seventh-place at the par-72, 6,136-yard Idle Hour Country Club.
Thompson shot 2-over par, 74, in the first round before firing a 75 in the second 18 holes for a score of 149, while Villavicencio matched her scores in reverse. The two are just seven strokes off the lead pace entering Tuesday's final round. Villavicencio posted a team-best seven birdies including four in the first round on Monday, while Thompson finished with six -- three in both rounds -- in the opening 36 holes.
A back injury held WCU's fifth member of its scoring five, senior Bethany Galloway, out of competition limiting the Catamounts to just four scorers. A knee injury also prevented true freshman Brianna Plummer, who was scheduled to compete as an individual, from playing in Monday's two rounds.
Junior transfers Alyssa Morahan and Amanda Floberg rounded out WCU's four competitors. Morahan posted rounds of 6-over par, 78, and 3-over par, 75, for a two-round score of 9-over par, 153, to sit in a tie for 28th. Floberg, looking to build on her runner-up finish at the Bill Berg Invitational, struggled through an opening-round 84 before trimming five strokes off in the second round for 79, posting a 36-hole score of 163.
Troy carries a one-stroke lead over tournament host, Mercer, into Tuesday's final round. The Trojans jumped six spots in the second round, countering a first round of 304 with a tourney-low 292 in the second round to post a two-round score of 596. The Bears (300-297 = 597) are followed by Southern Miss (599), two strokes in arrears with Toledo (602) and a two-way tie between Cincinnati and Western Kentucky at 604 rounding out the top five teams.
Fatima Cano of Troy holds a two-stroke lead over Kelly Erasmus of Southern Miss, 142-to-144. Cano was the only golfer to break par on Monday, while Erasmus was even through 36 holes.
The final 18 holes are slated for Tuesday morning. Western Carolina will be paired with fellow Southern Conference foes, Samford and Wofford. Live scoring is available online at BirdieFire.com.