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Maryland Clings to USGA State Women’s Team Lead, Utah in Middle of Pack

Savannah, Ga. – Ten years ago, Maryland found itself battling for the title over the final nine holes of the USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
Only a strong surge by Minnesota, the “home” team, kept Maryland from hoisting the Judy Bell Trophy at Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata, Minn.
Thanks in large part to 17-year-old Elyse Smidinger, Maryland will get another opportunity at a USGA championship on Thursday.
While it wasn’t a repeat of the birdie display from Tuesday’s first round, Smidinger’s even-par 72 in Wednesday’s second round helped Maryland to a one-stroke lead over Texas after 36 holes of the 2011 Women’s State Team Championship, being conducted on the 6,067-yard Palmetto Course at The Landings Club.
The 17-year-old from Crofton, who made eight consecutive birdies and nine overall in carding a first-round 68, mustered three birdies against three bogeys on Wednesday, as Maryland posted an 8-over-par total of 296 in the 3-count-2 format.
Maryland’s second score was an 81 by 53-year-old Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, while Andrea Kraus, 51, of Baltimore posted a non-scoring 81.
Texas, which was the runner-up in the inaugural Women’s State Team in 1995, posted a 3-over-par 75 from 56-year-old Anna Schultz of Rockwall and a 76 from Mina Hardin, 51, of Fort Worth. Both are past USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champions; Schultz in 2007 and Hardin in 2010.
Tennessee, another past runner-up (1999), stood alone in third place at 10-over 298, followed by defending champion Georgia (299).
New Jersey, which received an even-par 72 from 15-year-old Cindy Ha of Demarest, sits at 15-over 303, while Mississippi is another shot behind at 304. Past U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Virginia Grimes, 47, of Meridian, paced the Magnolia State with a 72. New Jersey has never finished better than a tie for 17th (2003). Mississippi placed fourth two years ago.
Kraus, playing in her 27th USGA championship (including the Women’s State Team) , was a member of that runner-up 2001 team that made a final-round run at Minnesota, but came up nine strokes short.
“We really want a USGA championship,” said Kraus. “We’ll be in the hunt. The best approach [for us] is to play each shot and put everything else behind, and hope we have an ‘on’ day. It’s golf, so anything can happen.”
Thanks to Smidinger, whom Kraus affectionately calls “The Kid,” Maryland will have that opportunity.
Although her round began similarly to Tuesday with bogeys on two of her first four holes, Smidinger was feeling optimistic after closing the inward nine – she started on No. 10 – with birdies at holes 14, 15 and 18 to turn at 1-under 35.
But unlike Tuesday, she didn’t produce the same magic over the outward nine. Her lone birdie came at the eighth hole, which measured 272 yards for round two.
“A lot of people were telling me to go out there with no expectations,” said Smidinger, a senior at Arundel High who has verbally committed to attend the University of Denver next fall. “But it was like, why can’t I do it again?”
Like Maryland, Texas has had close calls at this championship. The Lone Star State finished one stroke behind Pennsylvania in the inaugural championship 16 years ago, and shared third in 2005 at Berkeley Hall in nearby Bluffton, S.C. When the event was played in suburban Houston at Carlton Woods four years ago, Texas placed seventh.
Schultz, Hardin and 49-year-old Robin Burke of Houston, who had a non-scoring 79 on Wednesday, have all played in this event multiple times, and they’re in excellent position to win.
“We’re right where we want to be,” said Schultz, who is hoping to add a Women’s State Team title to the three the Texas men have claimed, in 1999, 2005 and 2007. “I’m thrilled. I can’t wait. All three of us are hitting it well and I know there’s a low score out there for tomorrow.”
Schultz said the wind, which picked up as the day went on, made things a bit more challenging.
“It swirls a lot out here,” said Schultz. “You’ve got to add a club, sometimes two, depending on how hard that wind is coming. It was hard to pick a club.”
Rachel Dai of Suwanee, Ga., didn’t seem to have any problem with the wind. The 14-year-old Milton High freshman tied a championship record with a 5-under-par 67 – the only under-par round of the day – to keep the defending champions in the hunt for a possible third Women’s State Team title. Georgia, which won its first title in 2005, also had a 7-over 79 from veteran Laura Coble, 47, of Augusta.
But it was Dai’s performance that left everyone impressed.
“I saw a 67 on the board and said, ‘Good for you,’” said Tennessee’s Calle Nielson, who had a 74 after opening with a 69 on Tuesday.
Added Coble: “That 67 was huge. That’s an awesome score. We’ll take it.”
Starting on No. 10, Dai made the turn at one under with birdies at 11 and 17 and a lone bogey at 14. She heated up over the final nine holes, following a 6-foot birdie at the par-5 second with a 20-footer at the par-4 fourth. She converted a 12-footer at the fifth and closed the bogey-free second nine with a 3-footer at the eighth hole.
It was Dai’s career-low round by two strokes, surpassing the 69 she registered four months ago at Piedmont Driving Club. The 67 matched the championship mark by Brenda Corrie Kuehn (1997 with North Carolina) and Kathy Hartwiger (2009 with Alabama).
“Today, I just went out and played,” said Dai, who lost in the first round of this year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior at Olympia Fields (Ill.) C.C. “[All] I was thinking about [was] a little improvement [from Tuesday].”
Also improving her score was Jennifer Lucas of Tennessee. The 30-year-old from Knoxville trimmed five shots from her opening-round effort of 80 and, coupled with Nielson’s 74, put the Volunteer State in a good position for Thursday’s final round.
While the Tennessee men own a State Team title – they won in 2003 behind the play of current PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker, the best finish for the women is second, 12 years ago to Florida when the competition at Golden Horseshoe G.C. (Green Course) in Williamsburg, Va., was shortened to 36 holes due to a final-day thunderstorm.
Nielson, a recent University of Virginia graduate, was 11 years old at the time. She was in high school when the men won their championship eight years ago.
“We’re happy with where we are,” said Nielson, who advanced to the final stage of LPGA Tour Qualifying School at last week’s Stage II event in Florida. “We’ll go into tomorrow with a chance.”
As for the team’s mindset, Nielson said it won’t change from the first two days.
“It won’t be any different from today,” she said. “You can’t be conservative. I think we’ll get it together tomorrow.”
David Shefter is a USGA senior staff writer. Email him at [email protected] 
Savannah, Ga. – Results from Wednesday’s second round of the 2011 USGA Women’s State Team Championship being conducted on the 6,067-yard, par-72 Palmetto Course at The Landings Golf Club. Note: The two best scores out of three determine the team’s 18-hole score each day. 
1 – Maryland (143-153–296) Elyse Smidinger, Crofton 68-72—140; Andrea Kraus, Baltimore 78-83—161; Lisa Schlesinger, Laytonsville 75-81—156
2 – Texas (146-151–297) Robin Burke, Houston 74-79—153; Anna Schultz, Rockwall 72-75—147; Mina Hardin, Fort Worth 79-76—155
3 – Tennessee (149-149—298) Calle Nielson, Nashville 69-74–143; Jennifer Lucas, Knoxville 80-75–155; Maggie Scott, Charleston 84-89–173
4 – Georgia (153-146—299) Rachel Dai, Suwanee 75-67–142; Laura Coble, Augusta 78-79–157; Amira Alexander, Alpharetta 80-80–160
5 — New Jersey (155-148—303) Cindy Ha, Demarest 77-72–149; Kuriko Tsukiyama, West New York 78-76–154; Scotland Preston, Mountainside 80-83–163
6 – Mississippi (154-150—304) Virginia Grimes, Meridian 73-72–145; Cissye Gallagher, Greenwood 81-78–159; Renee Chastain, Brandon 84-86–170
7 – Hawaii (153-153—306) Ciera Min, Hilo 75-76–151; Hana Furuichi, Honolulu 78-77–155; Allisen Corpuz, Honolulu 78-78–156
T8 – South Carolina (149-159—308) Dawn Woodard, Greer 73-77–150; Lea Venable, Simpsonville 76-85–161; Lea Anne Brown, Mt. Pleasant 87-82–169
T8 – California (155-153—308) Lynne Cowan, Davis 74-80–154; Sharon Park, Irvine 81-75–156; Joan Higgins, Glendora 81-78–159
10 – Oklahoma (164-146—310) Ellen Mueller, Bartlesville 77-73–150; Kathy West, Tulsa 88-73–161; Leigh Ann Fore, Tulsa 87-89–176
11 – Florida )155-156—311) Tovie St. Louis, West Palm Beach 78-78–156; Wendi Golden, Bradenton 77-80–157; Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park 81-78–159
T12 – Minnesota (160-153—313) Leigh Klasse, St. Anthony 86-72–158; Olivia Lansing, St. Paul 78-81–159; Kristen Wagner, Minneapolis 82-85–167
T12 – Arizona (156-157—313) Mikayla Harmon, Gilbert 77-81–158; Kimberly Eaton, Tempe 79-79–158; Thuhashini Selvaratnam, Tempe 80-78–158
T12 – Puerto Rico (156-157—313) Maria Torres, San Juan 72-78–150; Paola Robles, Aguadilla 84-79–163; Rebekah Alfond, Dorado 93-97–190
15 – Wisconsin (155-159—314) Maggie Leef, Brookfield 75-78–153; Rheba Mabie, Wausau 80-81–161; Katie Falk, Milwaukee 86-87–173
16 – Connecticut (159-156—315) Mia Landegren, Bridgewater 76-79–155; Ellie Dutch, Moodus 83-77–160; Debbie Johnson, Stamford 95-81–176
T17 – Pennsylvania (157-159—316) Noreen Mohler, Bethlehem 80-76–156; Alexandra Frazier, West Conshohocken 77-83–160; Lisa McGill, Philadelphia 82-83–165
T17 – New York (162-154–316) Annie Park, Levittown 74-76–150; Danielle Fuss, Rochester 88-78–166; Teresa Cleland, Syracuse 90-83–173
T19 – Oregon (163-154—317) Brie Stone, Veneta 80-77–157; Monica Vaughn, Reedsport 83-78–161; Lara Tennant, Portland 84-77–161
T19 – Washington (154-163—317) Leslie Folsom, Seattle 76-80–156; Denise Kieffer, University Place 78-83–161; Anne Carr, Renton 85-87–172
21—North Carolina (158-160) Pat Brogden, Garner 76-80–156; Patty Moore, Charlotte 83-80–163; Debbie Adams, Asheville 82-82–164
T22—Alabama (157-162—319) Suzanne Stanley, Decatur 75-82–157; Linda Jeffery, Millbrook 82-81–163; Gabi Oubre, Mobile 87-81–168
T22—South Dakova (163-156—319) Maggie Murphy, Sioux Falls 83-76–159; Julie Jansa, Sioux Falls 80-80–160; Karla Murra, Sioux Falls 85-80–165
T24 – Massachusetts (159-161—320) Tara Joy Connelly, Pembroke 77-82–159; Pam Kuong, Wellesley 82-79–161; Kristen MacDonald, Billerica 83-83–166
T24 – Kansas (165-155—320) Shelly McCalla, Topeka 81-77–158; Lacy Shelton, Overland Park 85-78–163; Alex Beury, Benton 84-92–176
T26 – Utah (158-165—323) Annette Gaiotti, Salt Lake City 78-82–160; Julie McMullin, Park City 80-83–163; Lea Garner, Washington Terrace 89-83–172
T26 – Louisiana (160-163—323) Kay Daniel, Covington 78-82–160; Julie Harrison, Baton Rouge 84-81–165; Elise Bradley, Mandeville 82-88–170
28 – Kentucky (159-165—324) Beverly Games, Elizabethtown 81-80–161; Laura Patrick, Russell 78-87–165; Martha Leach, Hebron 81-85–166
29 – Colorado (167-158—325) Allie Johnston, Castle Rock 83-76–159; Laurie Steenrod, Aurora 86-82–168; Mary Doyen, Denver 84-85–169
T30 – New Mexico (163-163—326) Lara Davis, Albuquerque 82-79–161; Shania Berger, Socorro 81-84–165; Nancy Romero, Albuquerque 96-85–181
T30 – Michigan (169-157—326) Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Haslett 83-77–160; Natalie Brehm, Mt. Pleasant 86-83–169; Kim Kester, Ada 90-80–170
32 – Indiana (166-162—328) Kristi Trotter, Greenwood 83-81–164; Julie Carmichael, Indianapolis 88-81–169; Nina Whalen, Indianapolis 83-96–179
T33 – Nebraska (167-163—330) J.C. Weaver, Grand Island 81-81–162; Susan Marchese, Omaha 86-82–168; Jane Pohlman, Omaha 92-92–184
T33 – Iowa (166-164—330) Lisa Meshke, West Des Moines 81-80–161; Julie Bush, Cedar Rapids 88-84–172; Jenny Graeser, Cedar Falls 85-87–172
35 – Illinois (165-167—332) Tanya Olson, Naperville 82-81–163; Laura Carson, Lake Bluff 83-86–169; Char McLear, McHenry 88-88–176
36 – Virginia (162-171—333) Mimi Hoffman, Springfield 82-83–165; Shelley Savage, Alexandria 80-88–168; Boodie McGurn, Richmond 87-88–175
37 – Ohio (158-176—334) Suzi Spotleson, Canton 74-87–161; Lynn Thompson, Cincinnati 84-91–175; Cathy Jefferson, Centerville 87-89–176
38 – Nevada (167-172—339) Lisa Stanley, Reno 84-85–169; Robin McNesby, Henderson 87-87–174; Karen Hoppe, Carson City 83-92–175
39 – Maine (168-172—340) Emily Bouchard, Saco 79-84–163; Mary Brandes, Falmouth 89-88–177; Laurie Hyndman, Cumberland 96-93–189
40 – Idaho (171-172—343) Kareen Markle, Meridian 82-87–169; Karen Darrington, Boise 89-91–180; Shawna Ianson, Boise 98-85–183
41 – Arkansas (174-170—344) Tanna Richard, Fort Smith 86-86–172; Brenda Carr, Bentonville 93-84–177; Rosetta Parks, Lowell 88-100–188
42 – Wyoming (173-172—345) Sarah Bowman, Parkman 84-89–173; Miranda Bandemer, Laramie 89-86–175; Mary Smith, Sheridan 94-86–180
43 – District of Columbia (173-175—348) Shelley Gaffin, Washington 85-92–177; Deborah Klein, Washington 93-85–178; Maggie Brady, Washington 88-90–178
T44 – Delaware (175-176—351) Sandy Scitti, Selbyville 89-87–176; Angie Whitley Coleman, New Castle 86-93–179; Carolyn R. Henry, Middletown 99-89–188
T44 – Vermont (179-172—351) Holly Reynolds, Morrisville 86-78–164; Shelly Yusko, Quechee 93-98–191; Susie Bremner, Essex Junction 105-94–199
T44 – West Virginia (177-174—351) Kimberly Eaton, Shepherdstown 86-89–175; Caroline Ramsey, Bridgeport 91-85–176; Nicolle Flood-Sawczyszyn, Morgantown 94-91–185
47 – Rhode Island (181-177—358) Judy Davis, Rumford 89-88–177; Marisa White, Wakefield 92-89–181; Kibbe Reilly, Providence 98-90–188
48 – Missouri (183-176—359) Barbara Blankenship, Centertown 95-88–183; Stephany Powell, Springfield 88-95–183; Janis Clemens, Sedalia 104-88–192
49 – Montana (180-183—363) Sue Peterson, Glendive 85-89–174; Sue Matson, Laurel 95-94–189; Sable Hamilton, Colstrip 99-97–196
50 – Alaska (187-186—373) Terri McAngus, Eagle River 90-86–176; Jamie Berge, Anchorage 97-100–197; Susan Gatewood, Anchorage 117-102–219
51 – North Dakota (198-204–402) Theresa Burns, Bismarck 102-98–200; Mary Adams, Grand Forks 97-106–203; Sharon Lipsh, Grafton 101-108—209