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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Sophomore Kristin Ingram and senior Stacy Lewis paced the 10th-ranked University of Arkansas in first round action at the 2008 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday.
Ingram picked up where she left off last week at the NCAA West Regional Championship joining Arkansas’ leader Lewis with a one-over 73 on the par 72, 6,424-yard University of New Mexico Golf Course. The duo paced Arkansas to a plus-10 298 as the Lady’Backs came off the golf course in the top 10 ending up tied for 13th overall.
Arkansas’ position is a good one, just five strokes out of the top five. Second-ranked USC leads the field with a 284 followed by No. 3 UCLA and No. 10 Auburn who are tied for second. Fourth-ranked Arizona State is fourth overall with No. 9 Denver and No. 14 Wake Forest tied to round out the top five teams.
“It was a bit of a slow start today but we have three more days of golf left,” said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. “I know we haven’t played our best golf yet and we’re going to keep pushing and see if we can make a move up the leader board in the coming days.”
“Today was not a great day,” said the defending NCAA Champion Lewis after her round, “but it wasn’t terrible either. I’m going to get it going in the coming days. I hit the ball well. I had three putts that just went right over the edge of the hole today. I really couldn’t have hit them any better.”
Play was difficult in the first round and Arkansas got out to a slow start. Four of the five players bogeyed the first hole with the fifth tripling on the par-four 404-yard opener. That hole proved to play tough all day with a +.56 average relative to par for first round.
Junior Lucy Nunn settled in after the tough start playing the final 16 holes even finishing plus-four on the day with a 76. Teammate Kelli Shean matched those numbers and they are tied. Sophomore Alex Schulte played to a plus-eight 80.
“It was a really good recovery by Lucy,” said Estes-Taylor. She could have quit after her first two holes but she hung in there and played well over the last 16 holes. I’m also pleased with Kristin’s consistency. She played well at the Regional and to come back and have another good round for the team is great.”
Shean and Schulte finished their rounds in style with both birding the final hole. Schulte hit her third shot within 10 feet of the hole and made her putt while Shean was in closer around the three-foot mark to make the birdie.
“The greens really sped up late in the round,” said Estes-Taylor. “The winds will also play a big difference in how the course plays but we’re looking forward to that. We play in wind all year and feel like we have an advantage when it’s windy.”
The players got around the course at a good pace playing at about four hours, 20 minutes per round. But ideal conditions at the start of play in the morning session quickly gave way to elevating temperatures and a wind that dried greens and made them faster. The lush front nine challenged Arkansas as they adjusted clubs for the elevation and the surprisingly hilly and dry back nine saw fatigue set in for all of the teams Tuesday.
The winds are expected to increase with up to 30 mph gusts expected over the next two days. There is rain in the forecast for Friday.