BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- What a difference a day makes.
On Friday, golfers battled treacherous conditions on the first round of the SEC Women's Golf Championships at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Alabama and scores reflected it.
On Saturday, it was a completely different story. Storm clouds gave way to calm conditions and golf scores improved dramatically.
Texas A&M entered the day and in three-way tie atop the leaderboard with Vanderbilt and Tennessee at 5-over. The Aggies responded by turning in the lowest scoring round in SEC Championship history with an 11-under 277 to take a nine-stroke lead over second place South Carolina.
"The weather was perfect," Aggie Coach Trelle McCombs said. "It was ideal for scoring. There was not hardly a breath of wind and no rain. I felt like coming in, our preparation was exactly where it needed to be. I think this has been a culmination of everything we have done all year."
The Aggies were led by Bianca Fabrizio, who finished the day 5-under, 67 and sits atop the leaderboard at 7-under. She is one stroke ahead of South Carolina's Katelyn Dambaugh. Fabrizio is looking for her second win of the year, after tying for first at the Florida State Match Up in A&M's first tournament of the spring.
Last year at the SEC Championships, Fabrizio sat at 16-over heading into the final day and finished in 68th place.
"She's doing really well," McCombs said. It's funny because as many conversations as we've had with her, we've known that it as going to come out and it was a matter of her getting out of her own way and letting it happen. You could see it building up over the course of the year. She's starting to believe in herself more."
Fabrizio played a bogey-free round on Saturday and her only blemish so far in the tournament was a double-bogey on hole No. 15 on Friday. On Saturday, she exacted revenge on the hole by scoring a par.
"It's fun to watch her growth," McCombs said. "She's kinda been the one that a lot of people have forgotten about because everyone talks about Maddie (Szeryk) and MJ (Navarro).
Szeryk also had a strong round on Saturday, shooting a 5-under 67, one day after shooting a 1-over 73. She had six birdies and one bogey on the day. Her strong performance bumped her up to fourth place heading into the final day.
"Maddie has been so close the last few rounds of shooting that number," McCombs said. "We told her she had to go back and remember what she did when she played some of her best golf. She told us she was patient. She told us when I am playing well, I know that if I miss a putt, I'll have another chance. That's what you've seen today."
The key so far this championship for the Aggies was their performance on par-3's. They are 1-under and South Carolina, the next best team is 4-over.
"At Ole Miss, we were last in par-3's and I think that motivated them," McCombs said. "I think they realized that three's are good and not to get caught up on making a birdie. Tap ins are good. We have been committed to the targets we're hitting and the clubs we're hitting."
McCombs has to scratch her head as she sees her team holding a nine-stroke lead heading into the final day. She also knows that anything is possible with a field this deep.
"I would have said did all the other teams show up and get off the plane," McCombs said if told before the tournament she'd have a nine-stroke lead heading into the final round. "Even nine strokes is not enough, especially when you have a team like South Carolina. We can't let off the gas at all. We told our girls, pars are good and if you can sneak in a birdie, great."
South Carolina was the big team mover on Saturday as they shot an 8-under 280 to move up two spots into second place at 3-over after two days.
"I think they did a great job today," head coach Kalen Harris said. "They were patient. Katelyn (Dambaugh's) 65 really helped. It was a significant part of the round today. Really from top to bottom they did a good job. Everyone played solid. For all five to play well today was a real positive. Yesterday was a tough day and was easy for people to have a tough round."
Dambaugh's 65 tied for the lowest round in championship history. She finished her bogey-free round with seven birdies.
"She has been playing real steady golf," Harris said. "It's fun to see her play great today and have another breakout round. She can catch fire and isn't afraid to go low."
Harris was impressed with A&M's round but was proud of her teams ability to put themselves back in contention, giving themselves a chance on the final day.
"I think it just shows the perseverance of our team," she said. "They didn't feel great about how they played yesterday. They are a fighting team and did a great job today. A&M had an incredible day and put a little more space in between us. Hopefully tomorrow we can have our day and hopefully make some sort of run at it and that's all you can really do. We are in some sort of reach and who knows what can happen tomorrow."