Freshman AJ Newell carded four birdies in her first nine holes at the NCAA Regional.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Led by a solid effort from sophomore golfer Chessey Thomas, Tennessee saw a tale of two nines in round one of the NCAA Central Regional hosted by The Ohio State University.
The Lady Vols are tied for fifth place after registering an 18-over 306 team total at the par-72 6,264-yard Scarlet Course. UT sits eight strokes back of leader and No. 1 seed Southern California (+10) in the 24-team field.
Teeing off No. 10, Tennessee recorded a strong first nine holes. The Orange and White made the turn at even par sitting atop the leaderboard heading to hole No. 1 behind four birdies in five holes - including three straight - from freshman AJ Newell in her first NCAA postseason event.
"We went out and played the back nine well and we had some putts drop," head coach Judi Pavon said. "AJ [Newell] fired off three birdies in a row and at the turn we were in great position to have a solid day."
Tennessee struggled after the turn, losing 16 shots on holes one through three.
"Holes one, two and three - we just were intimidated by their length from the practice round. We let them get to us and we lost a lot of shots. Number seven was playing tough so we had a few bogeys coming in."
Chessey Thomas finished with Tennessee's low round, putting up a two-over 74 showing on the Regional's first day. The Spokane, Wash. native recorded 14 pars in the Regional's first round and is tied for 12th place going into round two.
Powered by a stellar first nine, Newell carded a 3-over 75 and is tied for 19th. A product of Tampa, Fla., the rookie tallied five birdies in the round.
Junior Sara Monberg is tied for 34th place after the opening round, turning in a 5-over 77 performance. The Juelsminde, Denmark, native was even through the first nine, but picked up five strokes on her way in to finish at +5.
Senior Nathalie Mansson turned in an 8-over 80 performance in round one, good for a tied-for-68th placement while last season's regional medalist, junior Erica Popson, earned a tie for 78th will a tally of 81 (+9).
"Erica and Nathalie were not playing well today, but the other three stepped up," Pavon noted. "Those two need to step it up because they are our experienced players. They need to stay positive and they can go out and play well for us tomorrow.
"There are no excuses to make bug numbers so we need to clean up our play for tomorrow. We need to stay positive and believe in ourselves."
Tennessee will tee off No. 1 again grouped with Vanderbilt and Ohio State. The Lady Vols' round is slated to begin at 1:26 p.m. Live results are available at GolfStat.com.