Oct. 16, 2009
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The weather proved no match for the Tennessee women's golf team on Friday at Fox Den Country Club, as the Lady Vols opened up a 13-stroke lead during the first round of the 13th annual Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships.
UT will tee off from the first hole at 10:39 a.m. with Kent State and Louisville, who are tied for second at 8-over 296.
A live stream of hole No. 18 will be broadcasted on UTLadyVols.com starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
With seniors Diana Cantú (-3) and Ginny Brown (-2) sweeping the top two positions on the leaderboard, and sophomore Nathalie Mansson (-1) tying for third, Tennessee was able to card a first round score of 5-under 283 and take the lead for the second consecutive year at their home tournament.
Friday, the Lady Vols took the lead in a more dominating fashion than 2008, though, by shaking off rain and temperatures hovering around 50 degrees at the par-72, 6,317-yard golf course.
The challenge at this season's tournament will be maintaining the torrid pace. After holding a six-stroke advantage heading into day two last in 2008, the Big Orange followed with rounds of 306 and 301 to finish with a total score of 890 (+26) and place eighth.
"Last year, we played really well the first day but it was more like everybody had a career day," Brown said. "This year, everyone who shot under par is capable of doing so regularly. Last year, we were a less experienced team. This year, I think we'll be able to stay focused on each shot and not think about where we are on the leaderboard."
The Lady Vols moved atop the leaderboard right from the start. Freshman Erica Popson fired an eagle on hole one, while Cantú birdied two of her first four holes.
Mansson got off to a much different start - making bogey on three of her first four holes - but had four birdies over her final 10 to finish with a 71.
Cantú's 69 ties for her career-best and matches her season-best set last weekend at the Tar Heel Invitational. The Monterrey, Mexico, native made 15 pars and played a bogey-free round.
Brown's 70 is a season-best and is one stroke off of her career-best 69 set during the opening round of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz.
Freshman Sara Monberg joined Cantú, Brown and Mansson in the top 10 after firing a 1-over 73 to tie for eighth. Popson is one stroke back of her classmate at 2-over 74 and is tied for 14th.
Tennessee's first round score ties last season's Mercedes-Benz first 18 for the fifth-lowest round in school history.
And while Tennessee had gotten off to a great start to the 2009-10 season, placing fourth at the Duramed Cougar Classic in September and sixth at the Tar Heel Invitational last week, Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon did expect her charges to perform quite as well as they did on Friday - partly because of the conditions.
"Everyone has been playing really well and I thought we had a shot to shoot around even par," Pavon said. "When they come out and Ginny shoots 70, Natalie 71 and Diana 69, it makes a huge difference. They were patient all day out there and didn't let the weather affect their performance."
The Lady Vols also had three individuals compete. Firing a 5-over 77 was freshman Leigh Henderson, while junior Spurlock carded a 7-over 79. Junior Rebecca Watson turned in a 9-over 81 to round out the UT contingent.
Live results of Saturday's second round will be posted on www.golfstat.com.
|Round 1 Team Standings|