Sophomore shoots a 69 in Friday’s third round to move up the leaderboard into fourth place. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

BRYAN, Texas – Michigan State sophomore Caroline Powers shot a round of 69, the best ever by a Spartan at the NCAA Championships, in Friday’s third round to move into fourth place on the leaderboard with one round to play. Powers is currently four shots back of leader Tiffany Lua (UCLA), but Lua only completed 14 holes in the third round as play was suspended due to darkness.

The four-round, 72-hole event is being hosted by Texas A&M at the Traditions Club.

Powers was tied for second following one round of play after carding a 70 on Wednesday, but slipped to 17th after shooting a 76 on Thursday. She bounced back with an impressive round on Friday to move up 13 spots on the leaderboard, as she has a 54-hole total of 1-under 215 (70-76-69).

Among the other contenders for the individual NCAA title, Georgia’s Marta Silva Zamora is the highest on the leaderboard who has completed three full rounds; she is at 2-under 214. 

Lua is 5-under through 14 holes and LSU’s Austin Ernst is 2-under through 14 holes.

The highest finish for a Spartan at the NCAA Championships is 13th (Emily Bastel, 2001).

Powers started out on the back nine – like in the first round – and was hot early, recording birdies on 10 and 11. She then compiled six straight pars before closing out the first nine with a birdie on the par 5, 447-yard ninth hole, and made the turn at 3-under (33).

The Bowling Green, Ohio, native was solid in her second nine holes as well, collecting seven pars and one birdie against just one bogey for a total of 36. The round of 69 (-3) tied her career best, which she also shot earlier this season at the Tar Heel Invitational and two weeks ago at the NCAA East Regional.

Powers is one of six golfers competing as an individual at the tournament. The 24-team field is currently led by UCLA by six strokes.

Powers entered the NCAA Championships ranked No. 27 in the nation by Golfweek. She had a scoring average of 73.71, which is on pace to establish a new MSU single-season record, set just last year by All-American and Big Ten Golfer of the Year Laura Kueny (73.85). Powers is making her first career appearance at the NCAA Championships.

The fourth and final round of the NCAA Championships will be held Saturday; live scoring will be available at ncaa.com