BATON ROUGE, La. – Gabriela Lopez and Emily Tubert counted par or better rounds leading the eighth-ranked University of Arkansas to the top of the leaderboard after first round action at the LSU Golf Classic in Baton Rouge, La., Friday.
Lopez is tied for the lead shooting a one-under 71, while two-time All-American Tubert posted an even par 72 and is tied for fourth overall. Arkansas has a five-stroke lead shooting 293 on the first day of play.
“This is a championship golf course and it requires a lot of strategy,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. “Blessings is such a great tool to prepare us for these events and these types of courses. This is as proud as I have been after a round of golf. Everyone was focused and committed to the plan and it was a complete team effort.”
Lopez and the Razorbacks teed off around 10 a.m. at the University Club and she opened on hole 10. Lopez counted back-to-back bogeys on 11 and 12 but quickly settled down shooting even on the 13th and 14th holes. Lopez then went birdie-bogey-birdie and made the turn at plus-one.
The freshman pared the next five holes before back-to-back birdies dropped her to one-under where she would finish.
“It was a great round for Gaby today,” Estes-Taylor said. “She was really focused and for her to go one-under really helps the team.
Junior Tubert also played well opening with a 72 in the first. Tubert also started from the 10th tee box and picked up a birdie with a three on the par four 12th hole. She moved to two-under with a birdie on 17 and added her third birdied of the round after the turn on hole one.
The Burbank, Calif., native gave all three strokes back with three bogeys on the front side but still finished even and is in the hunt.
Junior Emma Lavy finished the day with a two-over 74 and is tied for 13th. Senior Victoria Vela is tied for 21st with a first round 76 and freshman Regina Plasencia is tied for 34th overall with a 78.
“Emma got off to a tough start but stayed strong today and finished well,” Estes-Taylor said. “Victoria picked up two birdies in the final four holes to count a 76 for us and we needed that. It was really a group effort today.”
Arkansas has a five-shot lead over No. 25 Tulane who is second with 298. TCU and No. 43 Florida State are tied for third with 301 followed by No. 20 North Carolina State with 302, No. 36 Kentucky with 304, No. 29 Tennessee with 305, NO. 30 LSU with 306, Missouri with 309, No. 18 Georgia with 315, Wake Forest with 316, No. 38 Ole Miss with 322, Louisiana-Monroe with 323 and UNC-Wilmington with 335.
“East hole demands a lot of precision,” Estes-Taylor said. “The greens are tricky and you have to pay attention to where the hole locations are. We have to create a plan and stay committed to that. We have to trust the plan on every hole. We are going to take this one day at a time, one hole at a time. Everyone is in such a good place mentally and mechanically and if we just keep our goals in mind and commit to our plan, we’ll have a shot on the last day.”
Play continues Saturday with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.
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