One doesn't need to remind Brigham Young sophomore Stephanie Brockbank that two former Cougars are in position to steal away her lead in the Utah Ladies' State Am. For now, her stiffest competition is the puzzling but magnificent course at Toana Vista.
Following two rounds of play in her third State Am, the 20-year old Brockbank stretched her lead over to three strokes over former BYU players Lachell Simmons and Sharon Probst. Yet even with the most familiar competitors, Brockbank is still finding her biggest test is avoiding the sandy Nevada terrain."I got in the desert about three or four times today," she said Sunday after finishing with the day's top score of 74. "It was good to be on the fairway, but when you're not, it's good to get a good lie."
All desert hazards were forgotten for Brockbank, however, with special thanks to her clutch putting. Both her birdies came consecutively on the No. 4 and 5 holes, including an 18-foot putt on No. 4.
Brockbank was at an even par for the round after 15 but then dropped two consecutive bogeys and ended with a par on the eighteenth. Yet her 29 total putts were three less than her count Saturday.
The championship flight has turned into a three-player chase with Simmons and Probst rounding out the top three. Brockbank made her break early with a two stroke lead on the back nine where the threesome began the day.
After a first hole birdie, Simmons then ran into trouble with a streak of four bogeys. But after sinking a long par putt on the sixth she cooled down to post three more pars before the turn.
"If I hadn't made that putt on the sixth, I would have been really hurting," the two-time State Am champ Simmons said. "You really need a putt like that to get you playing again." The 1991 BYU graduate ended the day with a 76 total, pushing her three back of Brockbank.
For the second time in two days, Probst turned in the best putting total of all golfers in the championship flight, with 28 shots on the green. This year's WAC champ ended with a 78 total to place her six strokes behind the lead.
"I've been reading greens really well," Probst said. "Anything within five or six feet has been good, and beyond that I've always gotten close."
In the first flight, Aelia Alvarez boosted her score with an 81 in Sunday's competition to lift her into the lead with a 165 gross total. Right behind her is C.J. Fish who ended with 82, and Danna Quinn with a 79.