Lady Vols Cruise at Mercedes-Benz
Chessey Thomas has her sights on the championship

Sept. 20, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee women's golf team came out to defend its turf on Friday. The Lady Vols finished the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship with a 285 (+1), putting the ladies right in position to contend for the hometown title.

"I thought that we had a pretty good day," head coach Judi Pavon said. "We did a really good job on the holes that we had talked about... focusing on and playing conservatively and making pars. So I was really happy with that."

The Lady Vols excelled on the opening day as host of the tournament at the Cherokee Country Club. The ladies racked up a total of 19 birdies through 18 holes. However, a few Lady Vols found trouble on the No. 7 hole.

"We kind of stumbled a bit on hole number seven, which was a little bit unexpected for us," Pavon said. "We were six-over par (as a team) on that hole. But we played the rest of the golf course really well."

Leading the charge for the Lady Vols was freshman Hannah Pietila. (Watch Hannah and sister Emmie have some fun in this week's Lady Vol feature: CLICK HERE). In just her second collegiate start, Pietila registered five birdies and an error free back-nine that lead to a 69 (-2) first round.

Senior Chessey Thomas also chipped in with some veteran leadership. The Spokane, Wash., native finished with a 70 (-1) that included two birdies and only one bogey.

"I was really proud of Hannah (Pietila) and Chessey (Thomas). I thought they played great. It was really nice to have two of our ladies come in under-par today."

The combo of Pietila and Thomas is quickly becoming a go-to for Coach Pavon. The Big Orange duo finished one-two for the Lady Vols earlier this month at the Cougar Classic. After one round at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, Pietila is in third place while Thomas is right behind her in eighth.

"I was really happy with today," Pavon said. "We just wanted to be in position to have a chance to win after the first day instead of having to worry about digging ourselves out of a hole. So I thought we did a great job with that."

As for the rest of the field, Central Florida's Fanny Cnops and South Carolina's Katelyn Dambaugh lead the individual championship race after each shooting a 68 (-3). Dambaugh sealed her place at the top of the leaderboard with an eagle on the 18th hole. Additionally, Dambaugh's South Carolina Gamecocks are atop the team leaderboard with a first round score of 279 (-5).

The Mercedes-Benz also featured an unlikely Volutneer connection. Mary L. Gallagher finished with a 75 (+4) for the Mississippi State women's golf team. Mary is the daughter of former Tennessee men's golf legend Jim Gallagher, Jr. The former All-American played on the PGA Tour and was a member of the 1993 Ryder Cup team.

On Saturday, Tennessee will tee off at 9:30 a.m. ET from the 1st tee box. The Lady Vols will be paired with UCF and Tulane.

Volunteer fans can continue to keep up with the team by following @LadyVol_Golf on Twitter.

*Played as Individuals
TEAM SCORES (Through One Round)
1. South Carolina 279 (-5)
2. Arkansas 282 (-2)
3. Louisville 283 (-1)
4. Tennessee 285 (+1)
5. UCF 286 (+2)
6. Tulane 290 (+6)
T-7. Penn State 292 (+8)
T-7. Chattanooga 292 (+8)
9. Mississippi State 293 (+9)
10. Ole Miss 294 (+10)
11. Michigan 296 (+12)
T-12. Campbell 298 (+14)
T-12. Notre Dame 298 (+14)
T-12. Rollins College 298 (+14)
T-15. UTSA 299 (+15)
T-15. Missouri 299 (+15)
17. College of Charleston 301 (+17)
T-1. Katelyn Dambaugh, South Carolina 68 (-3)
T-1. Fanny Cnops, UCF 68 (-3)
T-3. Hannah Pietila, Tennessee 69 (-2)
T-3. Katie Petrino, Lousiville 69 (-2)
UT SCORES (Through One Round)
T-3. Hannah Pietila 69 (-2)
T-8. Chessey Thomas 70 (-1)
T-19. Lucia Polo 72 (+1)
T-19. AJ Newell 74 (+3)
*T-44. Emmie Pietila 72 (+1)
T-62. Mason Chen 76 (+5)
*T-62. Teleri Hughes 76 (+5)
*T-71. Daeun Song 77 (+6)





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