CHANDLER, Ariz. — It can’t get any closer for Portland State and Northern Arizona.
The two historically strongest teams in league history will enter Tuesday’s final round of the 2013 Big Sky Conference Golf Championship tied. Both squads are eying their seventh league championship.
Northern Arizona shot a second round 293, while 18-hole leader Portland State fired a 302 on Monday at the Ocotillo Golf Resort. After 36 holes, Brad Bedortha’s Lumberjacks and Kathleen Takaishi’s Vikings are all square at 592.
Defending champion Northern Colorado shot a 295 Monday and is well within striking distance, just seven shots behind Portland State and Northern Arizona. Sacramento State is just nine back of the leaders.
On the individual side, Montana State junior Paige Crawford a shot four-under-par 68, one shy of the conference record to take the lead. Crawford, from Colorado Springs, Colo, shot a first-round 73. Her 36-hole total of 141 is one shot better than defending champion Carleigh Silvers of Northern Colorado. Portland State’s Britney Yada, the 2011 individual champion, is in third place at 143.
Crawford’s 68 was a career-low round. She had a bogey-free round with four birdies.
“I’m just happy I’m playing well,’’ Crawford said. “I’m hitting the ball well and making putts. I’ve been working on my putting. I hit 17 of 18 greens today. I try not to think about numbers. I just go out and hit the ball, stay relaxed and not think about numbers.”
Tuesday’s final round begins at 6:30 a.m. Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona and Portland State will begin at 8:45 a.m. The final pairing of Silvers, Yada and Kaitlen Parsons of Northern Arizona is at 9:21 a.m. Live stats are available at www.golfstat.com
Northern Arizona’s charge on Monday was led by Parsons, who shot a one-under-71. Parsons is tied for fourth place with an even-par 144. Senior Stephanie Kim, the 2010 Big Sky Champion, shot a 73, while sophomore Darian Spivey recorded a 74. Freshman Savana Bezdicek contributed a 75. NAU is seeking its first title since 2009.
Portland State, seeking its third championship in four seasons, was led by Yada’s 73 on Monday. Sophomore A Ram Choi shot a 75.
Five players broke par in the second round. Crawford (68) and Silvers (69) broke 70. Sacramento State senior Kercia Brakel fired a collegiate-best 71, while Weber State senior Kelsey Chugg and Parsons each finished in the red at 71.
Montana’s Olivia Weber, who shot a 71 on Sunday, is in fifth place at 145. Chugg and Brakel are tied for sixth at 146.
— Big Sky Conference