Taylor McCorkle made Friday a day to remember during the final round of the Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational.
More importantly, the North Dakota State sophomore from Oregon made Friday a day to remember by, in her words, making better decisions than she did Thursday at Sunbrook Golf Course in St. George, Utah. A lot of them.
McCorkle set Bison women's golf record for lowest 18- and 36-hole rounds, firing a 7-under-par 65 to post her second collegiate victory by two strokes over Southern Utah's Chanikan (Pluem) Yongyuan with a 3-under 141 total.
Her 65 bettered her personal collegiate career low by six strokes and broke Amy Anderson's school record of 66 set March 13, 2012 at the Jackrabbit Invitational. Her 141 total broke teammate Emma Groom's 36-hole record of 143 set April 10, 2018 at the Kansas City Intercollegiate.
"Sticking to my own game was what got me in the right zone off the bat, and playing smarter off the tee and on approach shots helped me stay in the zone," McCorkle wrote via text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "(Friday), I played a lot smarter than I did (Thursday), knowing when to go for pins and when not to was key for how (Friday's) round went. Before every shot, I asked myself where the spart spot to hit the ball was, and that helped me keep the big numbers off my card."
Before she knew it, McCorkle had a lot of little numbers on that record-setting scorecard. She made six birdies and one eagle (vs. just one bogey) in rallying from six shots behind first-round leader Sarah Bell of Oral Roberts to win the 84-player event.
McCorkle started on the 147-yard, par-3 third hole and opened with a birdie. She added another birdie at the par-5 seventh hole and was 2-under when she reached the back nine.
There, McCorkle went birdie-birdie on Nos. 10 and 11 and then parred her way to the 265-yard, par-4 14th hole where she drove the green and made the 8-foot eagle putt.
"After I followed the eagle up with back-to-back birdies, I tried not thinking about the earlier holes and stayed focused on what's ahead because that had been working up to that point," wrote McCorkle, who hit her drive on the 18th hole into the right rough, missed the green and made her only bogey before finishing par-par to close out the victory.
It was her third top-10 finish in seven starts this season. She also won the Diane Thomason Invitational at Iowa City, Iowa.
When I finished, I didn't know at first that I would end up winning. My whole mindset for the day was to help the team move up the leaderboard. When I found out I won, I was pretty excited. Winning for the second time this season just makes me want to keep working at my game to prepare for the rest of the season."
McCorkle's epic round helped NDSU shoot 299 in the final round and finish sixth with a 607 total, the third-best 36-hole score for the Bison in program history. It also left McCorkle with the best showing among the six Wisconsin golfers in the tournament.
Milton native Mia Seeman, the 2017 WIAA Division 1 state champion, shot 73 and finished 12th for South Dakota State at 5-over 149. Appleton native Mikaya Smith, a senior at Xavier (Ohio), shot 81 and finished tied for 24th at 10-over 154. Middleton native Alexis Thomas, a sophomore at NDSU, shot 80 and finished tied for 35th at 13-over 157. Waterford native Taitum Beck, a sophomore at Weber State, shot 77 and finished tied for 48th at 16-over 160. North Dakota State's Katelyn Martin, a junior from North Prairie, shot 77 and finished tied for 73rd at 22-over 166
"I got to play with Mikayla Smith the first day, which was awesome," McCorkle wrote. "It's always fun playing with her. (All) of those girls are great players so it was nice to all compete at the same tournament."