USGA WOMEN'S STATE TEAM
Women's State Team Final Round: Five Things to Watch For September 11, 2015 | Cape Girardeau, Mo. By Scott Lipsky, USGA

Michaela Morard, 13, has brought a spark to Alabama's squad at Dalhousie Golf Club, firing a 2-under 70 on Friday. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Women's State Team Home

Who Will Make History on Saturday? Florida enters the final round with a two-stroke lead over Georgia after posting a 36-hole total of 283, breaking the record of 285 Georgia had set in 2005, and, incidentally, matched on Friday. Both squads are in good position to surpass the championship’s 54-hole scoring record of 429, set by Alabama in 1997.

With a win at Dalhousie Golf Club on Saturday, Georgia would continue to separate itself from the pack with a fourth Women’s State Team victory. No other state has won the championship more than once. Florida previously won in 1999.

The individual scoring record is also in play heading into the final round. New Mexico’s Dominique Galloway and Massachusetts’ Shannon Johnson sit at 3-under 141 through 36 holes; the 54-hole record by an individual in the Women’s State Team is 213, shared by five players. Florida’s Meghan Stasi and Tara Joy-Connelly and Georgia’s Emilie Meason (142) and Margaret Shirley (143) could also threaten the mark with solid rounds.

Race for Individual Medalist Heats up: There are 11 players within five shots of New Mexico’s Dominique Galloway and Massachusetts’ Shannon Johnson, who lead all individuals at 3 under, and how that leader board shapes up on Saturday could go a long way toward determining which team will ultimately hoist the Judy Bell Trophy. Of those players, seven are on teams that enter the final round tied for third or better. Florida, the 36-hole leader, has a pair just a stroke back in Meghan Stasi and Tara Joy-Connelly, while second place Georgia has Emilie Meason one stroke back and Margaret Shirley two behind.

“It’s pretty impressive if two of us are battling it out for medalist. I’m looking forward to it; [Margaret’s] a good player and it would be a good win for both of us,” Meason said.

Oregon’s Kate Harper will play as an individual after posting a 36-hole score of even-par 144. While her squad missed the 36-hole cut, she will be able to compete for medalist honors since she is within five strokes of the individual lead after two rounds.

New Mexico on the Rise: New Mexico began to establish itself as a force in the Women’s State Team two years ago, when after only recording one top-30 finish in eight tries, it underwent a youth movement that resulted in a tie for eighth at NCR Country Club. Dominique Galloway, 17, the youngest player on that squad and the lone returnee, is looking to take them to even further heights at Dalhousie Country Club. Rounds of 69-72 put her in a tie at the top of the individual leader board heading into the final round, lifting a squad that also includes her younger sister Jacquelyn, 15, to a tie for third through 36 holes.

“Our goal is to beat [2013],” said Dominique Galloway, who played in the LPGA Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout in April. “Individually, it doesn’t really matter because I want to make sure my team is really good.”

Dominique Galloway (right), who counts sister, Jacquelyn, as a teammate, has been the engine behind New Mexico's Women's State Team rise. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Alabama Getting it Done With Experience, Youth: Alabama will enter Saturday in a tie for third place, with the teenage duo of Michaela Morard, 13, and Micheala Williams pairing with a veteran national champion to rise toward the top of the leader board. Kathy Hartwiger, the 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, posted the low score for the Yellowhammer State on Thursday with a 2-over 74, while Morard made five birdies on Friday en route to a 2-under 70, tying Massachusetts’ Shannon Johnson for the low individual score of the day.

“We talked yesterday, and our goal was to have fun. It’s a weird little circle – if you have fun, you play good golf, and if you play good golf, you have fun,” said Morard, the reigning Alabama Girls’ State Junior champion. “My first day, I left a lot of birdie putts out there, so I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll catch some up this time.’ I still left a couple out there, so I’m just saving them for tomorrow.”

Maryland Continues to Chug Along: Maryland is still looking for its first win in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship, and while that may be out of reach, as it will begin Saturday tied for 14th, 18 strokes behind Florida, the trio from the Old Line State has another mark that is very much still in sight. Other than the 36-hole leaders, Maryland is the only other team to record a top-15 finish in all 10 previous playings of the Women’s State Team. Even more notable is that it has finished in the top seven on seven of those occasions, with its best performance being a runner-up finish in 2001.

The trio of Aneka Seumanutafa, 14, Delaney Shah, 17, and Connie Isler, 31, entered Friday very much in contention after Shah and Seumanutafa fired rounds of even-par 72, but stumbled in Round 2, with Seumanutafa’s 77 being the squad’s best score.

“For me, I had two bad holes [Friday] and I thought, hopefully they’ll have my back and I know I can just forget about it and move on because I can count on them,” said Shah, who has competed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior in each of the last two years. “It’s easier to let go of a bad hole with a team.”

Scott Lipsky is the manager of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.