It was no surprise to see the Florida Gators in the top spot after Monday’s opening round of NCAA regional play in the Norman Regional at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Gators were the stroke-play champions at the SEC Championship. Florida would then lose in the opening round of match play to eventual champion Ole Miss, but in their return to competition today, the Gators picked up where they left off – in stroke play that is.
No surprise: Kent State. Golden Flashes head coach Greg Robertson was pleased with his teams performance on Day 1. Sure, Kent State had about 15 holes of perfect weather before winds started to whip up and temperatures began to drop, but that wasnt the reason the Flashes found themselves as the only team under par and leading by eight shots after the first round. With four players shooting par or better, Kent State drove it well on a tough tee-to-green golf course with thick rough. We got off to a good start, made some birdies and just kept it rolling, Robertson said. … They put themselves in position to hit the ball close into the green and make birdies. Panthongs 68 led the way, but Michaela Finn and Thitapa Pakdeesettak added 71s and Chloe Salort chipped in with a 72. (Finn capped her round with a hole-out eagle on the par-4 18th.) No. 1 player Karoline Stormo shot 76, but that included bogeys on each of her final three holes. Robertson is confident that as the weather worsens these next two days – cooler weather, some rain and more wind – his team can continue to widen the gap. Weve been playing in it all spring, so well be used to it for sure, he said.
“We left there with something to prove,” junior Sierra Brooks said. “Definitely left a sour taste in our mouths after losing the first match.”
Brooks would lead the Gators with a 3-under 69 and is just one shot off the lead of Michaela Fletcher of Memphis. Fletcher, who is ranked No. 100 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, posted a 4-under 68. Fletchers round started and ended with a bogey, but in between she made six birdies.
After a sluggish start on the front nine, the Gators ended the round going 4-under in the last four holes as a team, something that pleased head coach Emily Bastel Glaser.
No surprise: Duke. No Leona Maguire, no problem for the top-seeded Blue Devils. This is one of the deepest teams in the country and on a long and wet golf course, they proved it Monday. Four players are at T-14 or better, including Ana Belac and Jaravee Boonchant, who each shot even par. Conditions should dry out and the course should play faster these next two days – and with plenty of firepower, Duke should remain in position to advance.
I was happy with the patience they showed and their attitudes, both were really good today, said Bastel Glaser. We played well at SECs and obviously felt like we left a lot there with not a lot to show for it. But, this group has been really tough and resilient and they did not skip a beat.
Texas Tech is the No. 10 seed, but a look at the Red Raiders spring season and they have been playing much better than that. In the Golfweek/Sagarin spring-only rankings Texas Tech checked in at No. 24 and they played like it on day 1. Texas Tech finished at 1-under 287 and in a four-way tie for third place Texas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
The top six teams will advance to the NCAA finals later this month at the Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Ark.
The team played really well today. I feel like we have been getting stronger all spring and it finally came together today, said Texas Tech head coach JoJo Robertson. We know its a three-round tournament so well have to come out tomorrow ready to play again.
Work to do: Stanford. The top-seeded Cardinal played alongside Kent State and Arizona in the early group, but they were unable to match their counterparts. Mike Liu, playing in the No. 5 spot, was the only player to shoot under par, carding a 1-under 71. Andrea Lee and Albane Valenzuela combined to shoot 7 over.
Wake Forest, the No. 2 seed, is currently on the outside looking in after a 2-over 290 and sitting in a tie for 8th place. … Defending NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho of Wake Forest shot a 1-under 71 and is currently three shots off the lead. … the scoring average for round 1 was 74.66. … Purdue led the field in birdies made with 17. … Day 2 of the three-day event is on Tuesday.
Work to do: South Carolina. One of just two SEC schools making the trek to Washington, the third-seeded Gamecocks looked out of sorts Monday. It started with a triple bogey on the first hole from No. 1 player Lois Kaye Go and ended with no players inside the top 20 or shooting better than even par.
AUBURN, Alabama–If there is a home course advantage for the Auburn women’s golf team it wasn’t apparent in the opening round of the NCAA regional at Saugahatchee Country Club on Monday.
On a day they posted 16 bogeys, one double bogey and just four birdies, the Tigers found themselves on the wrong side of the cut line 18 holes into the event that features 54 holes of competition over three days.
“We are leading in pars (68), which is a good thing at regionals because par is a good score,” Luellen pointed out. “We missed some greens with wedges in our hands and that is stuff that is so easy to clean up.”
The 13th-ranked Tigers, who are 11 over par, are dozen shots behind the leader, third-ranked Vanderbilt. Auburn is in a tie for eighth place with 22nd-ranked Furman.
The Tigers are three shots behind seventh place Virginia and five shots out of sixth place behind Tennessee and Maryland. Only the top six teams will advance to the NCAA Championships.
Luellen said her message to the team is to stay on an even keel. “Patience is the winner,” she pointed out. “Obviously, the golf course is challenging. You saw a lot of bogeys out there and not a ton of birdies. We just have to be really, really patient. We understand the hole locations. We have a pretty good idea of where they are going to be.
“What we are really focusing on is what we have been focusing on all season long–can we make the fewest amount of mental errors? Today we did not meet our goal.”
Mychael O’Berry, a sophomore from Hoover, led the Tigers on Monday with a two-over-par 74. She finished her day with three bogeys and one birdie.
The Tigers also counted three scores of 75 by junior Elena Hualde, sophomore Kayleigh Telfer and freshman Brooke Sansom. The team’s top-ranked player, sophomore Julie McCarthy, posted Auburn’s only double bogey and finished at 76, which is a score the Tigers were able to throw out for figuring the team total.
Asked if she was surprised the Tigers didn’t score better on Monday after getting a lot of practice time of the Saugahatchee course this spring, O’Berry said, “A little surprised. Everybody has their off day. I know we are capable of playing really well out here. We just have to take these next two days and use our advantages and make it through.”