Oct. 10, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Career-best efforts from Junior Ginny Brown and sophomores Rebecca Watson and Lauren Spurlock led the Tennessee women's golf team to a commanding six stroke lead after round one of the 12th annual Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships on Friday at Fox Den Country Club.
As hosts of the tournament, Tennessee greeted its opponents with a 5-under 283, the second-best score in Mercedes-Benz Women's Championships history. UT's banner day was just off the tournament record of 282 the Lady Vols set in the final round of the tournament in 2004 at Cherokee Country Club. UT's team score also was the second-best first round score in team history, one stroke behind UT's 282 at the 2007 Las Vegas Showdown.
Brown and Spurlock reduced their previous career-bests by three and five strokes, respectively, in carding 69s to tie for fourth after the first round. Watson set a new career-best by one stroke in shooting an even-par 72 and is tied for 13th. Tennessee's fourth team scorer, freshman Nathalie Mansson carded a one-over 73 and is tied for 23rd.
"I'm thrilled, but we really need to take it one day at a time," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "The girls need to stick to the same game plan for tomorrow and Sunday. Everybody had a plan today and each player went out and followed it. Their hard work paid off today and they got to see the results."
Three players will head into round two tied for the individual lead after carding 4-under 68s. North Carolina's Sydney Crane, North Carolina State's Lauren Doughtie and UCF's Marika Lendl sit atop the day one leader board. Lendle shot a 32 for the first nine holes and finished with six birdies. Doughtie had four birdies and an eagle on hole 10, while Crane carded four birdies and no bogeys.
The Lady Vols, who came into the tournament not ranked in the Golfstat/Sagarin top-50 rankings, vaulted ahead of seven top-25 teams in commanding fashion as the only team below par.
Tennessee and North Carolina spent much of the first day near the top of the leader board. The Lady Vols took control after the Tar Heels faded on their second nine. Playing the back nine first, UNC shot a 3-under before carding a 4-over on the front. The Tar Heels' score of 289 puts them in second heading into round two. The Lady Vols, starting from the first tee, were 2-under on the front nine and 3-under on the back nine.
Brown continued her hot streak from two weeks before at the Mason Rudolph, where she fired her previous career-best round of 72 on the final day of the Vanderbilt-hosted tournament. The Austin, Texas, native opened her third Mercedes-Benz by carding three birdies in her first seven holes en route to a two-under 34 on the front nine. She added another birdie on hole 14 and almost had another one on the final hole.
"I feel like we are getting rewarded for how hard we've been working," Brown said. "My short game and my mental game are getting better. I played one shot at a time and stuck to what my plan was perfectly."
Spurlock, a transfer from Belmont, had two birdies on the front and two birdies on the back. A bogey on hole 14 was her only mistake during her career day. Spurlock's previous best was a 74 at the Draper Intercollegiate last season.
"I've been hitting the ball great," Spurlock said. "I needed some putts to fall and they did today. Today was amazing."
Watson had three birdies and three bogeys during her top round as a collegiate. Her previous best was a 73 during the first round of the Las Vegas Showdown in 2007.
Mansson, who leads UT with a 73.83 stroke average this season, rebounded from a double bogey on her second hole of the day to record three birdies and finish one-over.
UT's fifth player, redshirt freshman Emily Sills, carded an 86.
Rounding out the top team scores were North Carolina State (290), LSU (291) and Furman (294).
The Lady Vols begin Saturday at 10:39 a.m. from the first tee.
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