PALM COAST, Fla. -- Four University of Houston Women's Golfers posted par or lower Monday to give the Cougars a 1-stroke lead heading into the Final Round of the American Athletic Conference Championships.
Competing on the 6,198-yard, par-72 Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach Golf & Spa Resort, sophomore Leonie Harm and juniors Ivon Reijers and Megan Thothong each fired 2-under 70s, while Courtney Tibiletti shot 72 to lead the Cougars.
The 44th-ranked Cougars trailed No. 28 UCF by 15 strokes at the turn but combined to play the back nine at 2-under par to for a two-day score of 572 to stand one shot ahead of the Knights.
After making only a combined seven birdies as a team in Sunday's First Round, Houston nearly doubled that total with 12 birdies during the final nine holes Monday.
Harm enjoyed a 4-stroke lead over the field for the individual lead at 8-under 136. After alternating birdies and bogeys on Nos. 2-4, the Gerlingen, Germany, native added another birdie on No. 7 and moved to 3-under through 12 holes after sinking back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12-13.
Battling through a bogey on No. 13 and a double-bogey on the par-4 14th, Harm rebounded with a birdie on the short, par-4 15th hole and capped her day with a birdie on No. 18 for a total of 136.
She opened the Championships by tying her and Tibiletti's school record with a 66 for the second time this season Sunday afternoon.
Harm, who ranks No. 71 in the latest Golfstat national rankings, stands four strokes ahead of No. 31 Ashley Holder (UCF) and Ashley Cassidy (Cincinnati). No. 87 Maria Balczar (UCF) and Brigitte Dunne (SMU) are tied for fourth at 141.
Making her third straight appearance at The American Championships, Thothong (pronounced Toe-Tong) enjoyed five birdies in Monday's round to join Harm among the top-10 leaders. Her round did not start well with a double bogey on the 489-yard, par-5 fourth hole but quickly improved late on her front nine.
The Dallas native and 2016 All-American Athletic Conference honoree drained a birdie on the ninth hole and opened her back nine with three straight birdies. Thothong added her final birdie of the day on No. 15 to move into a tie for 6th at 2-under 142
Reijers (pronounced Rye-hers) used steady play throughout her round Monday to record a 70 of her own. The Barcelona native endured her lone bogey of the day on No. 4 but moved back to even par with a birdie on No. 9.
Reijers added additional birdies on No. 13 and No. 17 to move into 11th at 146.
Like Reijers, Tibiletti was making her inaugural appearance at The American Championships. The Huntsville, Texas, native sank a pair of birdies on her front nine and added another birdie on No. 15 to finish her day at even-par 72 and moved into a tie for 13th at 148.
Junior Allie Andersen stood in 34th at 152.
No. 39 SMU stood in third at 580 with Cincinnati (587), East Carolina (588), Tulsa (591), Tulane (592), USF (596) and Memphis (622) rounded out the field.
While this is the fourth straight season that the conference's postseason tournament has been played at this venue, it is the first time it has been played on the Conservatory Course.
Fans can follow live scoring from The American Championships by visiting Golfstat.com and following the appropriate links or by clicking here.
WATCH No. 18 in FINAL ROUND>
The American Digital Network will have live coverage of the 18th hole during the Final Round, beginning at 10 a.m. (CDT), Tuesday. Fans can watch No. 18 Tuesday by clicking here.
Following the completion of the Final Round, ADN also will carry the award ceremony with coaches and student-athlete interviews.
Tuesday's Final Round begins with a 7 a.m. (CDT) split-tee start off No. 1 and No 10. The Cougars will compete in groups with No. 28 UCF and No. 39 SMU, beginning at 7:50 a.m. (CDT) Tuesday, off No. 1.
Andersen begins the day at 7:50 a.m. (CDT) with Tibiletti (8 a.m. CDT), Reijers (8:10 a.m. CDT), Thothong (8:20 a.m. CDT) and Harm (8:30 a.m. CDT) following.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
The Cougars look to defend their conference championship crown after winning the tournament in only their second year of team eligibility.
After posting a First-Round score of 319, the Cougars bettered that total by 34 strokes with a score of 3-under 285 in the Second Round.
All five Cougars finished among the tournament's top-20 leaders with sophomore Yuka Kajiki leading the way with a score of 223 to tie for fifth. Thothong finished eighth at 224 with Harm tying for ninth at 225.
Houston finished third at the 2015 American Championships with a score of 878 in their first year of team postseason competition.
With the completion of The American Championships, the Cougars will learn their NCAA postseason fate. The NCAA Selection Show is slated for 10 a.m., Thursday, April 27, on Golf Channel.
The Cougars look to be one of 64 teams sent to one of these four NCAA Regional sites: UNM Championship Course (Albuquerque, N.M.); The Rawls Course (Lubbock, Texas); Scarlet Course -- Ohio State Golf Club (Columbus, Ohio) and University of Georgia Golf Course (Athens, Ga.).
JOIN THE P.A.R. 4 CLUB
Fans are invited to join The P.A.R. 4 Club to support Houston Women's Golf. P.A.R. 4 Club members provide financial support directly to Houston Women's Golf for needs beyond the program's operating budget.
Fans who join the P.A.R. 4 Club can begin receiving benefits for as little as $100 annually.
Fans can receive updates by following @UHCougarWGolf on Twitter and catch up with the latest news and notes on the team by clicking LIKE on the team's Facebook page at HoustonCougarWomensGolf.