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    SEC Golf Today: May 10

    Gamecocks Lead After Opening Round of NCAA East Regional

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The South Carolina women’s golf team put together one of its best opening rounds of the season on Thursday as it posted an even-par 288 (E) to take the lead at the NCAA East Regional at the Penn State Golf Course.

    The 25th-ranked Gamecocks hold a four-shot advantage over No. 2 Alabama (288). The round of 288 is tied for the 10th best 18-hole score in school history. Freshman Justine Dreher fired a 2-under 70 to lead the way and finish the day in third place, trailing Texas A&M’s Katerina Ruzickova by three strokes.

    “Overall, the whole day was a success,” said South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris, who guided the team to the program’s first-ever regional title in 2010. “We had some pretty windy conditions. I like our position right now. We had a solid day and a really good finish. I’m very proud of that. We stayed very patient today.”

    South Carolina battled through cold temperatures and wind gusts of up to 20 mph to erase six shots in the last four holes to get to even par.

    Dreher, who is coming off a tie for 12th finish at the SEC Championship, continued her solid play with a near flawless round as she recorded only one bogey. She made the turn at even par and played her best golf of the round on the back nine, shooting a bogey-free 2-under 34. Dreher sank a long putt across the green at the par-4 16th for birdie to highlight her day and narrowly missed a birdie attempt on No. 18.

    “Justine Dreher had it going all day long,” Harris said. “Believe it or not it could have been better. As Katie Burnett said, ‘I’m glad she’s on our team.’”

    Burnett bounced back from a sluggish start to shoot an even-par 72 to finish the day in a tie for sixth place. The Brunswick, Ga., native was 3-over through 14 holes but she caught fire down the stretch. She hit a solid approach shot on the par-4 15th to within 10 feet of the hole and sank the putt as she birdied three of her final four holes to fight back to even par.

    Junior Amanda Strang and sophomore Suzie Lee each posted a 1-over 73 to head into the clubhouse in a tie for 17th, while junior Meredith Swanson shot a 78 (+6) to finish the day in a tie for 72nd.

    Strang had a strong finish similar to Burnett’s as she was 3-over through 14 holes. She birded the par-4 15th and closed out her round on a positive note with a birdie on the 18th to wrap up the round at 1-over.

    Lee, who is playing in her first tournament since early March because of a surgery, didn’t show any signs of rust. After recording bogeys on the third and fourth holes, she settled down to play the rest of her round at 1-under.

    The SEC holds the top three spots on the leaderboard with the Gamecocks in the lead, Alabama in second and Florida sitting in third after shooting a 294 (+6). Washington, Texas and Texas A&M are tied for fourth after each posting a 296 (+8).

    The top eight teams and two individuals not on those teams will advance to the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 23-26 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

    The Gamecocks are scheduled to tee off on Friday in the afternoon wave beginning at 11:50 a.m. off of hole No. 10. Carolina will remain in a pairing with Oklahoma State and Michigan State. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.



    Alabama Women’s Golf Second at NCAA East Regional

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa.  – The University of Alabama’s top-seeded women’s golf team is in second place after a windy and wet first round of the 2012 NCAA East Regional on Thursday at the 6,253-yard, par-72 Penn State Blue Course.

    The Crimson Tide shot 4-over-par 292 in opening round and are four shots off the lead of eighth-seed South Carolina, who went 6-under in the final three holes to secure the lead after 18 holes. Florida rounds out a trio of Southeastern Conference teams atop the leader board in third place at 6-over 294.

    “The course was significantly more difficult with today’s conditions than it was in yesterday’s practice,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. “We are in second place, so we held our position. We did our best, and I was pleased with the overall result. We hit a few errant shots and had a couple of three-putts that we should not have had, but this tournament is about being consistent and staying away from mistakes over three rounds.”

    The top eight finishers at the NCAA East Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club on May 22-25 in Franklin, Tenn. After the three SEC teams, Washington, Texas and Texas A&M are tied for fourth with Tulane in seventh and Oklahoma State in eighth.

    The second-ranked Crimson Tide were actually at 1-under par with just three players still on the course, but the wind and rain picked up as Stephanie Meadow, Brooke Pancake and Jennifer Kirby finished their final two holes. With it raining sideways, Meadow made bogey on the No. 17, Pancake made bogey on the 17th and 18th and Kirby finished with a double bogey on the 18th after hitting her approach out-of-bounds with a 3-wood as the Tide posted a 4-over round of 292.

    Kirby, a junior from Paris, Ontario, Canada, still leads the Alabama contingent at 1-under-par 71 in a tie for fourth place. She eagled the par-5 fifth hole and made the turn at 2-under. Kirby got to three under with a birdie on the 13th before running into trouble on the 18th.

    Sophomore Hannah Collier had the most spectacular finish to her round with an eagle-3 on the par-5 18th hole. She is even par and tied for sixth after 18 holes. Collier, a native of Birmingham, also made birdies on the third and 10th holes and bogeys on the sixth, eighth, 11th and 17th.

    “This is Hannah’s type of golf course,” Potter said. “It fits long hitters and allowed her to have some wedges in her hand on approach shots. She made eagle on the 18th, which is a par-5 into the wind, and she must have hit the 3-wood of her life. But we should be able to make some birdies on the par-5s this week, and we will have to take advantage of that.”

    Meadow, a sophomore, is tied for 24th position after shooting 2-over 74 in the opening round. Pancake, a senior from Chattanooga, Tenn., had gotten back to 1-over par after birdies on the 15th and 16th holes before back-to-back bogeys on the final two closing holes left her tied for 39th at 3-over 75. Johanna Tillström’s 79 did not count toward the Tide’s score on Thursday.

    Alabama will tee off in the second flight of teams on Friday at 11:56 a.m. and be paired with Arizona State and Duke.



    Solid Start For Bulldogs At Central Regional

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 9-ranked Georgia women's golf team fired an 11-over 299 in Thursday's opening round of the NCAA Central Regional at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course. The Bulldogs are currently in second place and just a stroke off the pace set by No. 3 Southern Cal.

    The four golfers who have participated in every event during the 2011-12 campaign again led Georgia. The Bulldogs' counting scores were a 73 from Rocio Sanchez Lobato, a 74 by Marta Silva Zamora, a 75 from Emilie Burger and a 77 by Milena Savich.

    "It was cold and windy this morning and the Scarlet Course is a championship golf course," head coach Kelley Hester said. "Under those conditions, I thought it played very tough. I'm proud of the girls for hanging in there, being patient and sticking to the game plan. We didn't hit the ball great, but we chipped and putted very well. Those are things we've spent a lot of time on the past couple of weeks working on, and I'm pleased it paid off today."

    Georgia turned at 6-over as a team, with Sanchez Lobato at 1-under, Burger and Savich both at 2-over and Silva Zamora at 3-over.

    The Bulldogs staggered slightly just after that, losing five strokes at No. 10 and No. 11, before rallying to play the final seven holes at even-par. All four counting golfers played well during the stretch, with Silva Zamora leading the charge. She mixed birdies at No. 12 and No. 15 and a bogey at No. 13 with four pars to cover that section of the course at 1-under.

    Trailing the Women of Troy and the Bulldogs and rounding out the top-10 teams are Purdue at 301; Notre Dame at 304; No. 4 Auburn and No. 14 Tennessee at 306; No. 22 N.C. State at 307; and No. 21 Oregon, Virginia and No. 10 Vanderbilt all at 308. The top-eight teams will advance to the NCAA Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., on May 22-25.

    "All fall, we would get off to a rough start and then have to fight and claw our way back into contention," Hester said. "It was nice to get off to a strong start today. We want to be in contention going into the final day and after today we're one round closer and just one shot back. Our goal is to win the tournament and a round like today helps us keep our eye on that prize."

    Vanderbilt's Marina Alex shot the low individual loop, a 2-under 70. For Georgia, Sanchez Lobato is tied for eighth, Silva Zamora is tied for 12th, Burger is tied for 19th, Savich is tied for 34th and Amelia Hill, who shot 90, is 124th.

    The No. 3-seeded Bulldogs will again be paired with top seed Southern Cal and No. 2 seed Auburn in Friday's second round, teeing off from No. 10 beginning at 1:26 p.m.



    No. 3 Auburn Tied For Fifth At NCAA Regional

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Southeastern Conference champion Auburn women’s golf team carded an 18-over 306 Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Central Regional, finishing the day in a tie for fifth. Senior Patricia Sanz, the SEC individual medalist, led the Tigers with a 2-over 74, tying for 12th.

    Conducted by the NCAA and Ohio State University, the NCAA Central Regional Championship is a 54-hole stroke play tournament being played at the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club. The 24-team tournament features nine teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation. The par-72 course is playing at 6,264 yards for the tournament.

    The NCAA Central Regional is one of three qualifying tournaments for the NCAA Championship, set for May 22-25 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. The top eight teams from each of the three regionals will advance to the NCAA Championship.

    Auburn finishes the first day in the top five and just eight strokes out of first place. It is not unfamiliar territory for the Tigers as they were in second and nine stroke out of first after 18 holes at the SEC Championship. Auburn went on to take the lead after the second day before holding on to win the team’s third SEC title in the last four years.

    “We started out of the gate really well and had a little adversity, trouble with the greens and probably getting to know the golf course,” said Auburn head coach Kim Evans. “I’m kind of glad the round is over and that the team saw the course in a competitive nature versus a practice round. We just have to go back, get ready and see if we can get things going tomorrow.”

    The Tigers made easy work of the front nine at the Scarlet Course, making the turn in the lead at even-par. But, Auburn found trouble early on the back nine, slipping back into a tie for fifth.

    “Nos. 10, 11 and 12 are a rough start and No. 13 was dead into the wind, and it kicked up around then too,” said Evans. “We went from playing a still front nine to making the turn on some tough holes in the wind. We got punched in the belly right in the middle of the round and didn’t recover from it like we should have.”

    With her 2-over 74, senior Patricia Sanz has now led the Tigers in three of the team’s last four competitive rounds. She played a steady round with two birdies, four bogeys and 12 pars. She finished the day in a tie for 12th and four strokes out of the lead.

    “Patti played a good and steady round today,” said Evans. “The team left some putts out there, but she stayed in it and stayed true to what she has been doing since the SEC Championship.”

    Right behind her was younger sister Marta Sanz with a 4-over 76. She was 3-under after six holes and made the turn at 2-under, but the back nine gave her problems. A double-bogey to start and four straight bogeys late in the round dropped her into a tie for 29th.

    Just one stroke behind her was junior Carlie Yadloczky with a 5-over 77. She finished the day in a tie for 34th after carding five bogeys and 13 pars.

    Freshman Victoria Trapani, making her first NCAA Regional appearance, had the biggest turnaround of the day. She had a tough front nine, making the turn at 5-over. But, she rebounded on the back, playing even-par through the first eight holes before running into trouble and taking a double-bogey on No. 18. She finished the day in a tie for 56th.

    Rounding out the Auburn lineup was senior Haley Wilson with an 11-over 83. She finished the day in a tie for 101st.

    Top-seeded Southern California finished the day in the lead with a 10-over 298, just one stroke ahead of Georgia. Purdue is in third with a 13-over 301 with Notre Dame in fourth at 15-over 304. Auburn and Tennessee round out the top five with 18-over 306s.

    Individually, Vanderbilt’s Marina Alex is in the lead with a 2-under 70, followed by Paula Reto (Purdue) and Maria Salinas (Florida State) with 1-under 71s. Ashley Armstrong (Notre Dame), Alex Buelow (Stetson), Doris Checn (Southern California) and Madeleine Sheils (Nebraska) are all tied for fourth with even-par 72s.

    Tee times at the NCAA Central Regional will continue at 7 a.m. CT, Friday off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. Auburn will go in the afternoon wave, teeing off No. 10 from 12:26 – 1:10 p.m. CT. The Tigers will be playing alongside Southern California and Georgia.



    Lady Vols Tied for Fifth After NCAA Regional Round One

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Led by a solid effort from sophomore golfer Chessey Thomas, Tennessee saw a tale of two nines in round one of the NCAA Central Regional hosted by The Ohio State University.

    The Lady Vols are tied for fifth place with No. 2 seed Auburn after registering an 18-over 306 team total at the par-72 6,264-yard Scarlet Course. UT sits eight strokes back of leader and No. 1 seed Southern California (+10) in the 24-team field.

    Teeing off No. 10, Tennessee recorded a strong first nine holes. The Orange and White made the turn at even par sitting atop the leaderboard heading to hole No. 1 behind four birdies in five holes – including three straight – from freshman AJ Newell in her first NCAA postseason event.

    “We went out and played the back nine well and we had some putts drop,” head coach Judi Pavon said. “AJ [Newell] fired off three birdies in a row and at the turn we were in great position to have a solid day.”

    Tennessee struggled after the turn, losing 16 shots on holes one through three.

    “Holes one, two and three - we just were intimidated by their length from the practice round. We let them get to us and we lost a lot of shots. Number seven was playing tough so we had a few bogeys coming in.”

    Chessey Thomas finished with Tennessee's low round, putting up a two-over 74 showing on the Regional's first day. The Spokane, Wash. native recorded 14 pars in the Regional’s first round and is tied for 12th place going into round two.

    Powered by a stellar first nine, Newell carded a 3-over 75 and is tied for 19th. A product of Tampa, Fla., the rookie tallied five birdies in the round.

    Junior Sara Monberg is tied for 34th place after the opening round, turning in a 5-over 77 performance. The Juelsminde, Denmark, native was even through the first nine, but picked up five strokes on her way in to finish at +5.

    Senior Nathalie Mansson turned in an 8-over 80 performance in round one, good for a tied-for-68th placement while last season’s regional medalist, junior Erica Popson, earned a tie for 78th will a tally of 81 (+9).

    “Erica and Nathalie were not playing well today, but the other three stepped up,” Pavon noted. “Those two need to step it up because they are our experienced players. They need to stay positive and they can go out and play well for us tomorrow.

    “There are no excuses to make bug numbers so we need to clean up our play for tomorrow. We need to stay positive and believe in ourselves.”



    Razorbacks tied for 12th after first round
               
    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tough windy and cool conditions challenged the field at the 2012 NCAA Central Region Women’s Golf Championship on the Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday but the 34th-ranked University of Arkansas battled well posting a 310 for first round action.
               
    Conditions were significantly different than Wednesday’s practice round with steady, strong winds out of the north and cooler temperatures in the low 60s.  Those conditions, coupled with a challenging golf course, saw Arkansas’ scores higher than the Razorbacks would like but the first round 310 has the team tied for 12th in the 24 team field.
               
    “I think we got off to a slow start,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said.  “We played tough all day but unfortunately we didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked.  We counted a couple of big numbers coming in in tough conditions but that is the same for everyone.  This is a championship golf course that requires a lot of thought.  It requires eliminating the big numbers.”
               
    The Razorbacks are tied for 12th overall with No. 16 and host Ohio State.  Arkansas’ 310 is plus 22 but just 12 shots back of the leader, third-ranked Southern California.
               
    More importantly, the Razorbacks are just two shots out of the coveted top eight, with a chance to move on to the NCAA Championship.
               
    The Razorbacks opened on the 10th hole and were six-over through the first nine holes.  The second nine saw the scores change as the conditions did and Arkansas was plus-16 on the front nine.
               
    Sophomore Emily Tubert paced the team with a three-over 75.  Tubert opened play with back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11, in fact four of five Razorbacks bogeyed the first hole and all five players bogeyed or doubled the 11th.
               
    Tubert settled in getting the strokes back with birdies on 13 and 16 but turned one-over with a five on the par four 18th hole.  Her scorecard was unblemished until back-to-back bogeys on six and seven coming in.
               
    Tubert is tied for 19th place with her first-round 75.
               
    Sophomore Emma Lavy finished her day tied for 34th place with a five-over 77.  Lavy also opened with a pair of bogeys on 10 and 11 but birdied 12 moving to plus-one.  She bogeyed 14 and dropped the stroke again with a three on the par four 15th hole turning one-over.  Lavy had four bogeys on the front nine.
               
    Junior Victoria Vela and sophomore Emily Podzielinski are tied for 56th with seven-over 79s.  Vela was the only Razorback to shoot par on the opening hole and she was even through the turn.  Vela’s solid play continued with the Mansfiled, Texas, native just two over through 15 holes but she played the final three holes plus-five coming in.
               
    Podzielinski was one of two players to play the front or second nine holes better than the first nine Thursday.  She turned at plus-four and played the front nine plus-three finishing with strong putt for par on the ninth hole.
               
    Freshman Hally Leadbetter shot 89 and is tied for 123rd overall.  After a tough start on the back nine holes, Leadbetter rallied in the second nine shooting four-over.
               
    “You have to hit the ball in the fairway,” Estes-Taylor said.  “The rough is very penalizing and if you do hit it into the rough you have to take your medicine and hit it back into play and try not to take a big number.  The greens are fast so you have to be cautious when you have a downhill putt but that also means you can be aggressive with an uphill putt.”
               
    Third-ranked Southern California leads the field with a 10-over 298.  The top eight includes No. 9 Georgia with 299, No. 33 Purdue with 301, No. 49 Notre Dame with 304, No. 4 Auburn and No. 14 Tennessee tied for fifth with 306, No. 22 North Carolina State with 307 and No. 10 Vanderbilt, No. 21 Oregon and No. 27 Virginia in a tie for eighth with 308.
               
    The rest of the field includes No. 46 South Florida in 11th with 309, No. 34 Arkansas and No. 16 Ohio State tied for 12th with 310, No. 28 Florida State with 314, No. 39 Ole Miss, Harvard and Michigan are tied for 15th with 315, UTSA in 18th with 317, followed by No. 45 Texas State with 320, Butler with 321, No. 41 Kentucky with 322, UNC Wilmington with 323, Siena College with 328 and East Carolina with 329.
               
    “Tomorrow is a big day for us,” said Estes-Taylor.  “This is the type of course where you can get better with each round and we are looking to do just that.”


    Kentucky Wraps Up First Round of Central Regional

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Led by sophomore Liz Breed, the University of Kentucky women’s golf team finished the first round of the Central Regional of the NCAA Championship in 21st. The Wildcats shot a 34-over-par 322 on their first day of action at the par 72, 6,264-yard Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.

    Southern Cal sits atop the leaderboard after day one, shooting a 10-over-par 298 on Thursday. The Trojans have little breathing room with second-place Georgia just one stroke off the lead at 11-over-par 299. Purdue finished their first day of action in third, shooting a 13-over-par 301. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame shot a 16-over-par 304 to sit in fourth while Tennessee and Auburn round out the top five in a tie at 18-over-par 306.

    Shooting a 2-under-par 70, Marina Alex of Vanderbilt leads all individuals. With only one bogey, Alex recorded three birdies to earn the top spot entering the second round. Paula Reto of Purdue and Florida State’s Maria Salinas finished the first round in a tie for second at 1-under-par 71.

    Sinking a team-high four birdies on the day, Breed led Kentucky with a 5-over-par 77. Breed’s performance on day one leaves her in a tie for 34th. Junior Heather Lott finished the first round in a tie for 56th, shooting a 7-over-par 79.

    Junior Betsie Johnson finished the first round of competition in a tie for 91st. Johnson’s one birdies helped her to finish the day at 10-over-par 82. Coming off an impressive SEC Championship performance, senior Ashlee Rose shot a 12-over-par 84 on her first day of competition in Columbus. Rose sunk one birdie to sit in a tie for 107th. Junior Ashleigh Albrecht finished in a tie for 114th, shooting a 14-over-par 86.

    The Central Regional will continue Friday morning with Kentucky teeing off from the 10th tee box at 8:00 a.m. in 11 minute intervals. Albrecht will lead off for the Wildcats, followed by Rose, Johnson, Lott and Breed at 8:44 a.m. All times are Eastern.