The University of Arizona women’s golf team began play at the NCAA Championships at the Eugene Country Club on Friday in Eugene, Oregon. After the first round, the Wildcats are in fifth place, carding a team score of 291 (+3).
Freshman Haley Moore was the team’s leader, earning five birdies throughout her opening round. This was the third-most birdies in the field. She finished at 68 (-4), which makes her one of two players tied for first place. The freshman is tied with Purdue’s August Kim at the top of the leaderboard.
“Today was pretty good,” said Moore. “I was striking the ball really well and putting well. Over the next couple of days, I just need to pace myself. The conditions will probably be different, but there will still be scoreable chances. I just need to stay steady.”
Sophomore Krystal Quihuis followed Moore’s lead, notching a 73 (+1) in the opening round. She is holding a share of 39th place. Senior Lindsey Weaver finished with a 74 (+2) and is tied for 55th. Junior Jessica Vasilic earned a 76 (+4), and is currently holding a share of 85th place. Freshman Gigi Stoll posted an 82 (+10) after the round.
The Cats are in a good spot after the opening round with the top eight teams in the field advancing to the match play portion of the tournament. There are two more rounds of stroke play, before a team cut to 15. After 18 holes on Monday, the top eight teams will advance to the match play portion, which begins Tuesday.
“We played really well today,” said head coach Laura Ianello. “It’s round one, and the only thing you don’t want to do is shoot yourself out of it. We are where we need to be to keep ourselves in the top eight. I told the team we have to keep pressing forward, because even-par out here is a good score but there’s a lot of teams that can shoot even-par. The ladies had a lot of birdies today, which is a great sign that they are putting well, and they didn’t have a lot of big numbers. To me, that means that we are managing our golf game pretty well.”
Arizona had 14 birdies across the team, five falling to Moore and three each to Quihuis, Vasilic and Weaver. The Wildcats are seven strokes off the lead, held by Oklahoma State at seven-under. The rest of the top-five is held by Pac-12 schools, UCLA, Washington, USC, and Arizona. The course is proving to be difficult for all of the NCAA teams, with only two teams under-par.
Moore managed a good up-and-down on her first hole (par-4, 370-yard No. 10), which gave her the confidence for three straight birdies on holes 11-13. After a bogey on 15, she leveled out five holes at par. She then managed to birdie the par-3, 175-yard No. 3 which gave her the confidence for one more on No. 5. Her 68 (-4) is the second lowest round of her career.
“[Haley] was confident the whole day,” said Ianello. “She played like we know that she can.”
Arizona tees off at 8:36 a.m. PST on Saturday.
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