May 18, 2004

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After being one of the first teams to complete its round during the day, Head Coach Judi Pavon's golf squad sat back and watched as the rest of the field made its play during a marathon day that featured a 39-minute lightning delay during the afternoon group. The Big Orange wound up in a 14th-place tie with Stanford at the 2004 NCAA Championships at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala., with a 15-over 303 to start the tournament ahead of its group with New Mexico (304) and Arizona State (310). Tennessee's tally was a slim two shots off the pace set by the 2000 squad, which finished a program-best fifth place.

Oklahoma State, which barely made it out of the NCAA East Regional with Tennessee after ousting Florida in a playoff to take the eighth-and-final transfer spot, stormed the course with an even-par 288 to lead the field. The total is 15 shots in front of the orange-clad effort.

As for the individual championship race, 2003 Mercedes-Benz Champion Allison Hanna of Ohio State led the field of 125 competitors with a three-under 69, which is just one shot in front of a duo of fellow players with similar names as Hanna. Florida State's Alison Curdt and Michigan State's Allison Fouch are tied for second with San Jose State's Ashley Gomes with two-under tallies of 70.

"We played with a lot of mistakes today," Pavon said. "We had a lot of double bogeys that you would like to avoid. We played some sloppy golf out there, but actually played well for 14-15 holes. We were just one more score away from a decent round. There was a 45-minute lapse there where our top-three players lost 10 shots, but other than that we are in great shape."

Junior Jessica Shepley (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) and sophomore Violeta Retamoza (Aguascalientes, Mexico) paced UT during the opening round with one-over tallies of 73 that tied for 18th. The pair of performances is just one shot off Tennessee's first-day national-title tournament program standard set by former Lady Vol standout Tina Schneeberger in 2000 when she fired an even-par 72 on the initial day of competition.



"Jessica usually doesn't have a lot of birdies," Pavon said. "She ended up hitting some birdie putts down the stretch. If she could get off to a better start instead of having to come from behind, she will hit some even-or-under rounds.

"Violeta is just a great player." Pavon continued. "She had three bad holes, but came back to be in great shape for the rest of the tournament."

Shepley started off a bit rough with a pair of bogeys in her first four holes, but settled down to string together seven holes at par before taking her only double bogey of the day. Tennessee's team captain, however, bounced back with three consecutive birdies over six, seven and eight while also making par on three other holes down the stretch.

"I hit the ball really well today," Shepley said. "I only had a couple of bad swings that cost me. I ended up with two bogeys and a double that hurt. I came back and made some good swings coming in and that is something to feed off of and carry over to tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Retamoza nearly notched an under-par first nine with seven pars and a birdie in her initial eight holes before taking a bogey on 18 to open up with an even-par. The All-SEC first-team selection struggled through two more bogeys until rebounding to string together a run of six out of seven holes at even-or-under par to close out her round.

"I was not hitting the ball well," Retamoza said. "I wasn't very secure when going to hit the ball, but I was putting well today. Overall, I played pretty well and scored a good round. I had a couple of rough holes but was able to make up for them."

Freshman Holly Cantwell (Morristown, Tenn.) knew her role on the team coming into the tournament and came through exactly as planned. The local product carded an 83rd-place-tying six-over 78 with 12 pars and six bogeys to finish third on the team and shoot her average.

"She did her job," Pavon said. "We told her coming in that all she needed to do was play her game and provide some protection in case one of her teammates broke 80. She ended up shooting a 78 and that is what we asked of her."

Junior Teesha Ash (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and sophomore Golda Johansson (Lund, Sweden) rounded out the Big Orange effort with seven-over tallies of 79 that tied for 97th place.

Ash produced a fairly erratic round, but still wound up with a sub-80 score after opening up with two doubles and a birdie during her initial nine holes of play. After a run of seven even-or-under holes, she took a pair of bogies and a triple over her final five holes.

"Teesha can play better than she did today," Pavon said. "She is too good to make some of those mistakes. If she can eliminate those, she is going to have a good round."

Johansson opened the day at three-over after her first four holes, but came back strong on her first nine holes with a pair of birdies and three pars. However, she had a rough time on her first three holes after the turn with back-to-back doubles and a bogey. Johansson then rebounded to par on five of her final six holes to close out her day.

Next up, Tennessee maintains its pairing with Arizona State and New Mexico on Wednesday, but gets to sleep in with 12:30 p.m. CT tee times during the second round.

NCAA Championships
At Grand National Lake Course (Opelika, Ala.)

Team Scores:
1.Oklahoma State288
4.Ohio State296
Wake Forest298
8.Florida State301
Michigan State302
16.New Mexico304
North Carolina304
19.Texas A&M306
Southern California307
24.Arizona State310
Top Scorer (field=125):
1.Allison Hanna, Ohio State69
UT Scores:
t18.Violeta Retamoza73
t18.Jessica Shepley73
t83.Holly Cantwell78
t97.Teesha Ash79
t97.Golda Johansson79


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