FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Facing stiff winds, lightning-quick greens and an intimidating venue, the Vanderbilt women’s golf team finished the opening round of play at the NCAA Championships in a tie for 16th place.
The Commodores posted an 18-hole total of 27-over-par 319. They are tied with Florida State, just seven strokes out of the top-10.
Vanderbilt and virtually every other team in the field fell victim to the Blessings Golf Club, a par-73, 6,397-yard layout that played to its full difficulty Friday. The first-round co-leaders, Texas and Arkansas, finished with a 10-over-par 302.
Vanderbilt’s 319-shot total was the team’s highest single-day score this year, easily outdistancing a 313 total earlier this spring at the Lamkin Invitational in Southern California.
Vanderbilt returns to action Saturday in the second round. Senior Courtney Zeng is expected to be first off for the Commodores with a tee time of 8:21 a.m. Showers and possible thunderstorms are in the forecast over northwest Arkansas on Saturday.
Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen wasn’t surprised by the eye-popping scores on Friday.
"We knew this course could throw some punches and it did," Allen said. "But I love that this team didn't get knocked down. We will continue to battle until it's over. This team is tough and I'm excited to get back out there in the morning."
Sophomore Morgan Baxendale topped the Vanderbilt effort with a 4-over-par 77. Coming off a 5-under-par round in the NCAA Auburn Regional, Baxendale made two birdies on Friday. She is tied for 27th in the individual competition.
Freshman Auston Kim, who captured medalist honors at the Auburn Regional, produced just one birdie in a round of 5-over-par 78. She is tied for 40th place in the 132-player field.
Junior Abbey Carlson also registered just one birdie in a 8-over-par round of 81. She is tied for 81st individually.
Sophomore Louise Yu and senior Courtney Zeng struggled in the difficult conditions, posting scores of 83 and 84, respectively.
Blessings Golf Club, Fayetteville, Ark.
First Round Results
T-1. Texas 302. T-1. Arkansas 303. T-3. Arizona 304. T-3. Stanford 304. 5. Duke 305. 6. Southern California 306. 7. Wake Forest 309. 8. Arizona State 310. 9. Washington 311. 10. Purdue 312. T-11. Auburn. 313. T-11. Northwestern 313. T-13. Ole Miss 314. T-13. Virginia 314. 15. UCLA 315. 16. Vanderbilt 319. 17. Illinois 320. T-18. Florida 320. T-18. Florida State 319. T-18. UCF 321. 21. Indiana 322. 22. San Jose State 324. 23. Kent State 325. 24. Tennessee 328.
Vanderbilt Individual Results
T-27. Morgan Baxendale (+4) 77
T-40. Auston Kim (+5) 78
T-81. Abbey Carlson (+7) 81
T-101. Louise Yu (+10) 83
T-106. Courtney Zeng (+11) 84
NCAA Championship Schedule
Stroke Play: 72 Holes
Saturday, May 18: Second Round (18 holes) – 7 a.m.
• Vanderbilt off No. 1 tee starting at 8:21 a.m.
Sunday, May 19: Third Round (18 holes) – 7 a.m.
Top 15 teams after 54 holes advance to 4th round
Monday, May 20: Final Round (18 holes) – 11:30 a.m.
Top 8 teams advance to match-play quarterfinals
Golf Channel coverage 3-9 p.m.
NCAA Match Play (8 teams)
Tuesday-Wednesday, May 21-22