PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. – Vanderbilt sophomore Auston Kim posted one of the low scores in an difficult opening round at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge Sunday in Southern California.
Performing in cool, wet conditions on the Pacific coast, Kim registered four birdies during an even-par round of 71. Kim is currently tied for ninth in the medalist race.
Vanderbilt, ranked No. 18 entering the tournament, are tied with Washington for 12th place in team ranking with a 20-over-par total of 304. Auburn, a national semifinalist last year, owns the first round lead with a 1-under-par total of 283. Play was suspended due to darkness with players from Duke, Oregon, Wake Forest and Stanford still on the course.
Vanderbilt struggled for much of the day in its first appearance at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, which drew 12 of the nation’s top 20 teams to Palos Verdes Golf Club. The five Commodores combined to make 10 birdies. Kim and Yu accounted for seven of the birdies.
Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen was pleased with Kim’s ability to fashion her even-par score and blamed a difficult course playing hard for the team’s slow start.
“Auston played a really nice round and I’m proud of how she handled herself when things didn’t go her way,” he said. “In fact, I thought everybody did that well. This course can play difficult when you find yourself on the wrong side of the hole. Today was a good learn opportunity for us and I believe this group will show big improvements the next two days.”
The long-hitting Kim was 1-under-par through 13 holes, but lost ground to the leaders with disappointing bogeys on consecutive par-5s. She managed to back get to even-par with an impressive par-3 birdie on her 17th hole of the day.
After making the turn at 4-over-par, Yu closed with a pair of birdies to finish with a 75. She and Baxendale are tied for 39th place in the individual race.
“Abbey just hit some shots today that are very uncharacteristic of her, and I expect her to come back more determined than ever on Monday,” Allen said.
Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
Palos Verdes Golf Club, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
par-71, 6,017 yards
T-12. Vanderbilt 304
Vanderbilt Individual Scores
T-9. Auston Kim 71
T-39. Morgan Baxendale 75
T-39. Louise Yu 75
T-80. Abbey Carlson 83
T-80. Jayna Choi 83