Dores off to strong SEC start

April 18, 2018

SEC Championship Scoring | 2nd Round Pairings | Photos: SEC/Jimmy Mitchell

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Vanderbilt women’s golf squad got off to a strong start at the Southeastern Conference Championship Wednesday, concluding the first round third in the team standings.

The Commodores, sparked by freshmen Louise Yu, registered an opening-round total of eight-over par 296 on a day that featured difficult playing conditions. They trail only tournament leaders Alabama (286) and South Carolina (291) in the team standings. Both squads ahead of Vanderbilt are ranked in the top-10 nationally.

Vanderbilt will be paired with the Crimson Tide and Gamecocks in second-round play Thursday, with tee times at Greystone Golf & Country Club starting at 9:40 a.m.

The Commodores used two quick birdies by Yu and a hole-in-one by sophomore Abbey Carlson to jump into early contention on the front nine, then played steady golf over the back nine to earn the fourth-place result.

Greg Allen’s Commodores were excellent on the par-3s, finishing those four holes in 1-under. The team’s 2.95-stroke average on the par-3s was the best in the field. They also had the third-best stroke average (4.18) on the par-4s. The Dores were mid-pack on the par-5s with a 5.30-stroke average.

Allen was excited with his team’s performance and first-round position in the crucial stroke-play portion of the tournament. This year, for the first time, the SEC Championship moves to match-play competition on Saturday involving the low eight teams from 54 holes of stroke play.

“I’m so fired up about how this group battled today,” Allen said, “because the wind blew 15-20 [miles per hour] most of the day, swirling a lot, making for very tough scoring conditions. That really makes Lou’s [Yu] score even more impressive. And I so proud of V [Virginia Green] for continue to fight after a rough first hole. She showed a lot of grit. Heck, they all did.

“This was a total team effort from the very beginning. We know there’s still so much golf to be played the next two days but I like where we are. I think everyone is in the right mindset about staying patient and being in the moment,” Allen added.

Yu was superb in her introduction to SEC Championship play. A product of Duluth, Ga., Yu produced four birdies to fashion a two-under par 70. She ranks tied with three others for second in the medalist competition behind Alabama’s Kristen Gillman and posted the lowest score of any freshman in the tournament.

Yu also continued her excellent form entering the SEC tourney. In her last competition, she finished in a tie for fourth place individually in Vanderbilt’s victory at the Brickyard Collegiate on April 10. The 70 was Yu’s lowest round since she posted the same score in the final round of the UCF Challenge in February.

Green, a freshman of Fairhope, Ala., responded from the opening double-bogey to record a solid two-over 74. Green made both of her birdies late in the round, and played the back nine one-under par.

Junior Courtney Zeng and freshman Morgan Baxendale, both of Orlando, Fla., contributed to the Commodores’ team score with rounds of four-over 76.

Despite finishing with a 78, Carlson provide early momentum by recording her first competitive hole-in-one at the second hole. A product of Lake Mary, Fla., Carlson aced the 150-yard hole with a 5-iron.

SEC Championship Results
Team Results – First Round
1. Alabama (-2) 286
2. South Carolina (+3) 291
3. Vanderbilt (+8) 296
4. Florida (+10) 298
5. Arkansas (+11) 299
6. Missouri (+16) 304
T-7. Georgia (+18) 306
T-7. Auburn (+18) 306
9. Mississippi State (+20) 308
10. Kentucky (+21) 309
11. Tennessee (+22) 310
12. Texas A&M (+24) 312
13. LSU (+25) 313
14. Ole Miss (+28) 316

Vanderbilt Individuals
T-2. Louise Yu (-2) 70
T-13. Virginia Green (+2) 74
T-25. Morgan Baxendale (+4) 76
T-25. Courtney Zeng (+4) 76
T-38. Abbey Carlson (+6) 78