Photo Credit: Jimmy Mitchell/SEC
HOOVER, Ala. – A late flurry of birdies pushed the Vanderbilt women’s golf squad into eighth place after the opening round of the Southeastern Championships on Wednesday.
The late birdie barrage helped No. 5 Vanderbilt overcome an otherwise disappointing first-day performance at Greystone Golf and Country Club south of Birmingham. After reaching 13-over as a team through 15 holes, the Commodores used five birdies over the last three holes to conclude the round with an 8-over 296.
Sophomore Morgan Baxendale paced the Vanderbilt first-round effort with an even-par 72.
On Thursday, Vanderbilt will be paired with the Mississippi State, currently in a tie for sixth place, and ninth-place finisher Ole Miss. They will tee off the first hole starting at 8 a.m.
Greg Allen’s Commodores performed well on the par-3s and par-5s, playing those holes in 2-over and 4-under, respectively. Collectively, they struggled with a 14-over total on Greystone’s par-4s.
Though the Commodore tally was less than ideal, Allen found comfort in the way his squad closed the day.
“That certainly wasn’t the start we were looking for but it’s the start we’re gonna have to accept,” Allen said. “I’m so proud of our fight until the end. It was hard for us today and we could’ve easily let it slip away and get out of hand. But we stayed patient and showed great resilience, battling until the last putt dropped.
“I’m excited about the next two days. I think today had a lot to do with nerves and hopefully we’ve settled down. I trust this team and believe they have what it takes to earn a Saturday tee time.”
Baxendale opened with a 2-over 38 on the front nine, then gave the Commodores a lift with back-to-back birdies on No. 11 and No. 12. She then closed with a birdie at No. 17, shooting 2-under 34 on the back nine to finish with an even-par round. Baxendale is tied for 14th in the individual standings with the 72.
Carlson, the program’s first Arnold Palmer Cup selection, didn’t make her first birdie until the final hole. She finished the day with a 2-over 74, and is tied for 28th in the medalist race.
Both Kim and Zeng struggled early, then improved significantly over the last nine holes to post 3-over 75. Kim was 5-over through 10 holes before making three birdies over her closing eight holes. Zeng was 4-over for much of the round, but registered her lone birdie at No. 16 to finish at 3-over.
Yu matched Baxendale and Kim with four birdies but finished the day with a 4-over 76.
The Commodores will look to move up the leaderboard Thursday in the second round of competition. On Friday, the top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play will advance to match-play quarterfinals starting Saturday.
First Round (Stroke Play)
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