March 8, 2009
SORRENTO, Fla. -- Senior Nicole Smith fired a 4-under 68 and freshman Nathalie Mansson carded a 2-under 70 to lead the Lady Vol golf team to a tie for fifth-place after the first round of play on Sunday at the UCF Challenge.
UT carded its second-best team round of the season, a 2-over 290, at the RedTail Golf Club, and is tied with Auburn. UCLA will head into the second round atop the team leaderboard with a score of 282. Following the Bruins are Arizona State (284), Oklahoma State (286) and LSU (286).
Smith's 68 was the second-best round of her career, while Mansson's round tied her season-best. Smith is tied for second, while Mansson is tied for eighth. Smith's career-best round of 67 came during the first round of the 2006 Fall Preview, a tournament where she earned medalist honors.
Smith birdied three of the first four holes to get off to a hot start. The Riverside, Calif., native and Mansson both recorded five birdies on the first day of play.
"Nicole (Smith) played really solid golf today," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "She got off to a great start and did a good job staying focused to finish well. Nathalie (Mansson) continues to play well and with confidence. Team-wise, we are off to a solid start, but this is such a strong field, we can't afford to let up."
The Orange and White's first round score of 290 is its best round since firing a 283 for the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Classic in Knoxville this past October.
The tournament features arguably the toughest field of the season outside of the NCAA Championships as 13 of the top 20 teams in the latest Golfweek poll are competing at the event, including: No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 USC, No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Auburn, No. 9 Duke, No. 11 LSU, No. 12 Pepperdine, No. 13 Purdue, No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 15 North Carolina and No. 20 Arizona.
The second round tees off at 9 a.m. on Monday with the final round starting at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.