May 7, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A giant, wide smile sprang across Lady Vol freshman Nathalie Mansson's face after she chipped in for birdie on the par-5, seventh hole at Mark Bostick Golf Course.
Just moments earlier, Mansson's face bore the expression of a frown after she had twisted her second shot left. Trying for the green, her third shot fell short, as well. However, proving why she has wasted no time in establishing herself as UT's No. 1 player in just her first season, the Stockholm, Sweden, native regrouped. She turned what could have been a disastrous hole into one of three birdies she carded on Thursday en route to a 1-under 69 on day one of the NCAA East Regional.
Mansson is tied for third and her season-best total led the Tennessee women's golf team to tie for seventh-place with a total score of 292 (+12) after round one.
The seventh-seed in the tournament, Tennessee is only nine shots off the lead, held by East Carolina. The Pirates fired a 283 (+3) and were paced by Abby Bools and Ana Maria Pooche, who share the individual lead after firing 2-under 68s.
Mansson's round one score on the University of Florida's par-70, 6,023-yard course lowered her previous best 18-hole round of 70, and is just off her best score in relation to par of 2-under set three times this season. In addition, her stellar round increased her UT-best rounds of par or better total to nine.
"It was a good round," Mansson said. "I was consistent. My goal today was to be even par or better, and that's what I did. I need to just keep hitting the fairways and greens, and making my ups and downs over the next two rounds."
In addition to her three birdies, Mansson also saved par on the 18th hole by making a clutch 12-footer.
"Nathalie had some nice birdies today," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "She had a great par save on hole 18 to remain 1-under which was great for her. This is a really tough course."
For the first nine holes the Lady Vols didn't make their SEC rival-Gators' home course look so tough, though.
Tennessee got off to a roaring start, bursting onto the course in the first group at 7:40 a.m. and nailing seven birdies and making the turn at 2-under-par. UT struggled somewhat on the back nine, but finished the first day right where they need to be - in the top eight.
"We got off to great start on the front nine," Pavon said. "They were ready to go. On holes 10, 11 and 12 - we kind of lost it. They may have lost focus at the turn. That sometimes happens."
Pavon said the team regrouped on holes 13-15, but struggled again on the last three holes.
"This is a long tournament," she said. "We are in a good place. We just need to clean up our play and take advantage of our birdie opportunities these next two days."
In addition to Mansson, junior Ginny Brown also had a solid debut round, firing a 3-over 73 to tie for 23rd. Brown was 1-under at the turn and stayed focused despite shooting 4-over over the first three holes of the back nine.
"Parts of the day went well," Brown said. "I felt awesome, and then I stumbled in the middle. I got back to focusing on fairways and greens and just making it easy for myself, though."
Spurlock set the tone from hole one as the first Lady Vol to tee off. She promptly made birdie to kick-start the tournament, while Smith followed with a birdie of her own on the first hole a few minutes later.
Rounding out the Lady Vol competitors was junior Diana Cantú, who carded a 77 (+7) and is tied for 63rd. Cantú's score was a bit misleading though, as she made par on 14 of 18 holes. A triple bogey on the 11th hole and a double bogey on No. 15 inflated the Monterrey, Mexico, native's otherwise consistent round.
Tennessee begins round two from the tenth tee with Vanderbilt and Georgia at 11:50 a.m. on Friday. Live results can be found at www.golfstat.com.
|Lady Vol Placements|
|T3.||Nathalie Mansson||69 (-1)|
|T23.||Ginny Brown||73 (+3)|
|T41.||Nicole Smith||75 (+5)|
|T41.||Lauren Spurlock||75 (+5)|
|T68.||Diana Cantú||77 (+7)|
|1.||East Carolina||283 (+3)|
|6.||North Carolina||291 (+11)|
|11.||Coastal Carolina||301 (+21)|
|12.||College of Charleston||302 (+22)|
|T16.||Florida State||307 (+27)|
|18.||South Carolina||308 (+28)|
|21.||Jackson State||324 (+44)|