May 18, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Freshman Erica Popson's even-par 72 led the 12th-ranked Tennessee women's golf team into a tie for 14th-place during round one of competition at the 2010 NCAA Women's Golf Championships on Tuesday afternoon.
Popson collected three birdies and is tied for 20th as the Lady Vols fired a 9-over 297 team score at the par-72, 6,368-yard Pete Dye Course at the Country Club of Landfall.
The Big Orange will head into Day 2 just three strokes outside of the top-10, and will tee off with No. 1 UCLA and No. 5 Arizona State for the second straight day - this time from the 10th hole at 8:55 a.m. on Wednesday. The Bruins and Sun Devils both fired even-par 288s and are tied for third.
"You never know what to expect for the first round at this tournament," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "I'm pleased with today. I know we're not in that great of a place, but we're only a few shots away from a good position. I think they left some shots out there for sure, but now they know what to expect and can come out tomorrow ready to shoot some low scores."
Popson capped her NCAA Championships debut round with a two-putt birdie, narrowly missing an eagle, on No. 18. It was the Davenport, Fla., native's fifth round of par or better in her last seven rounds as she continues her streak of phenomenal play.
Popson tied for fourth at the NCAA East Regional a week ago and earned SEC Runner-up accolades in a playoff in April after tying for first at the conference tournament through 54 holes.
Sophomore Nathalie Mansson finished her day with a 1-over 73 and in a tie for 30th.
The Stockholm, Sweden, native will wrap up one of the most prolific seasons in Lady Vol history this week. She is chasing her ninth top-10 finish of 2009-10 at the tournament and is just one round away from tying the Tennessee single-season mark for rounds of par or better (16).
She summed up the thoughts of the rest of the team, stating she was disappointed in her round, but determined to improve her score on Wednesday.
"I didn't play my best today," Mansson said. "I three-putted on No. 18 and I missed a 6-footer on No. 17. I think tomorrow we just have to go out focused and we will play like we can. I'm going to go out there and try to make as many birdies as possible."
Tennessee's fifth player was junior Lauren Spurlock. She carded a 12-over 84 and is 124th heading into the second round.
No. 4 Southern California finished Day 1 at the top of the leaderboard after firing a 6-under 282, while No. 8 Purdue (284) was right behind.
The Trojans' Jennifer Song, the Boilermakers' Maude-Aimee LeBlanc and the Sun Devils' Jennifer Johnson each carded 5-under 67s to finish round one in a tie atop the individual leaderboard.
|LADY VOL SCORES|
|t20.||Erica Popson||72 (E)|
|t30.||Nathalie Mansson||73 (+1)|
|t72.||Diana Cantú||76 (+4)|
|t72.||Sara Monberg||76 (+4)|
|124.||Lauren Spurlock||84 (+12)|