LAKE ELMO, Minn. — The day started under cloudy skies and ended in light rain, but there was plenty of sunshine in between at Royal Golf Club on Tuesday during the second round of the Annika Intercollegiate.
One of the premier women's college golf events on the calendar, the field at the Annika Intercollegiate is loaded. Defending national champion Wake Forest is also the defending tournament champion, and the Demon Deacons creeped closer to South Carolina after the second round. The Gamecocks remain in front after 36 holes.
Meanwhile, the race for the individual title is tight. There are nine players at or within two shots of the lead, meaning the title is up for grabs come Wednesday.
Here's everything you need to know from the second round of the Annika Intercollegiate.
South Carolina remains in front
After a stellar start in the first round, South Carolina maintained its lead Tuesday at Royal Golf Club, shooting 6-under 282 and moving to 21 under for the tournament.
The Gamecocks, ranked eighth, have a three-shot lead over No. 4 Wake Forest with 18 holes to play.
"Conditions were a little bit tougher, hole locations were tougher," South Carolina coach Kalen Anderson said. "We just stayed patient and played steady today."
Louise Rydqvist, who held the first-round individual lead at 6 under, missed a birdie putt in the rain Tuesday to close her round, carding an even-par 72. She reminds in a big group at 6 under that's good for T-3.
However, teammate Maylis Lamoure is now tied for the lead, along with Wake Forest's Mimi Rhodes. Lamoure, a freshman who qualified in the fifth spot before the tournament, followed up an opening 67 with a 70.
"She's a 17-year-old freshman," Anderson said. "She plays within herself. She knows her game. She's very intelligent."
Anderson praised how sharp Lamoure is with her wedges, saying her game is the opposite of the other four bombers in the lineup. Combine that with a strong putting stroke, it's why the 17-year-old finds herself in position for a huge victory.
Freshmen showing out
In addition to Lamoure, another pair of freshmen are having strong collegiate debuts at Royal Golf Club.
Oregon's Kiara Romero, the 2023 U.S. Girls' Junior champion, and Texas' Farah O'Keefe each find themselves in the tie for third at 6 under, a shot behind Rhodes and Lamoure. O'Keefe had the low round of the day, shooting 5-under 67.
"That front nine, I don't know why, everything was going in the cup," O'Keefe said. "I wish I did a couple things differently on the back, but that happens with every good round you play."
O'Keefe started on the par-4 10th, making a birdie. She added another at 12 and then birdied the final three holes on the front to go out in 31. She played even par on the back.
Meanwhile, Romero, who shot 67 on Monday followed it up with a 71 on Tuesday in an up-and-down round. She had four straight birdies from Nos. 7-10 to offset two bogeys in her first six holes. A birdie on the last hole allowed her to sign for 1 under on the day.
"It definitely builds up the confidence," Romero said of her birdie streak. "Putts were rolling in, so I was feeling good, for sure."
More from the chasing pack
Also in the group at 6 under are Duke's Phoebe Brinker and Florida State's Lottie Woad, who each shot 4-under 68 on Tuesday.
Safe to say Woad had a more exciting day than Brinker, too. She had seven birdies and three bogeys. Meanwhile, Brinker, the 2022 ACC individual champion, had five birdies to one bogey.
"I didn't hit it the best yesterday, just kind of grinded it out," Woad said. "Today I hit it really nice. Could have probably made a few more putts but a nice finish with a birdie."
Teams in the hunt
San Jose State, which played in the lead group Tuesday, struggled on the front nine but fought back to manage a 1-over day. The Spartans are in fourth after 36 holes at 10 under.
Oregon, the 2022 national runners-up, will play with South Carolina and Wake Forest on Wednesday after carding a 6-under performance. Minori Nagano and Briana Chacon each shot 2 under on Tuesday.
Texas had the best round of the day, shooting 8 under. Lauren Kim, Bentley Cotton and Huai-Chien Hsu each shot 1 under to go along with O'Keefe's 5-under score. The Longhorns are tied for fifth with Texas A&M.
Florida State (6 under), Duke (3 under) and Virginia (1 under) are the other teams under par.
LPGA exemption on the line
Come Wednesday, one coach will have a big decision to make.
An LPGA tournament exemption to be awarded to a player from this year’s winning team. The exemption will allow one player to compete in the inaugural The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican taking place Nov. 6-12 at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida.
The Annika, an official LPGA event, will offer a $3.25 million purse, one of the largest outside of the majors. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Annika Foundation.
This is the first year the exemption has been awarded, and it will give the winning coach a choice.
Should the exemption go to the player who finished highest on the team at the Annika Intercollegiate? Should it go to a senior? Should it go to someone who plans to play professionally down the road?
The exemption will be announced during the trophy ceremony Wednesday.