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Southern Cal freshman charges into first

ATHENS -- Low scores were hard to find Thursday afternoon as sunny skies dried out the University of Georgia Golf Course. It took until the final two holes for Annie Park to find any.

The Southern Cal freshman finished birdie-birdie in the last group on the back-to-back par 5s that round out the course to break out of a tie for Mississippi's State Ally McDonald and will begin today's final round with a two-shot lead at 9-under par. Both were tap-in birdies.

"It's just focusing on each shot," Park said. "That'd be nice (to finish with par 5s) every round."

Before Park capitalized on the par 5s, McDonald took advantage of her early morning tee time.

The Mississippi State junior wouldn't want her team to be far from the top of the leaderboard, but the Bulldogs' team struggles opened the door for the first-team all-SEC selection to climb toward the top and, along with Park, be the only two of the Day 2 leaders to shoot under par Thursday.

"I played pretty well," McDonald said. "On the back nine I turned it on."

McDonald, who started the third round three shots back of the leader Stephanie Meadow of Alabama, fired a 2-under 70 dropping to 7-under for the tournament. She finished just as the leaders were teeing off. And just as the course turned stingy.

"It definitely did play a little tougher than that last two days," said Park who began the day one stroke behind Meadow at 7-under. "The greens were kind of tough too with the wind."

Meadow lost a stroke with a 1-over and is at 7-under, tied with McDonald. The three hold at least a three shot lead over the rest of the field. Souther Cal's Kyung Kim is alone in fourth at 4-under and with two rounds under par the Trojans increased their stranglehold on their team dominating team lead.

Now at 19-under par as a group, Southern Cal leads second-place Duke by 17 strokes. Defending champions Alabama, Purdue and and UCLA are tied for third at 9-over.

The race is for the individual title. Park and Meadow will tee off this afternoon leaving McDonald to watch after her early-morning tee time.

"I think I'm in a good position to make something happen (on Friday)," McDonald said. "(The top players) have no control over what I do. It's basically me, the ball and my clubs."