SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Eleventh-ranked University of Arkansas women’s golf team fought its way into 12th place after a tough first round at the 2011 NCAA Central Regional Championship at Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., Thursday. Senior Kelli Shean fired a first-round even-par 72 and is tied for third overall.
Arkansas opened play with a 19-over 307 after waiting out a 1:15 frost delay and overcoming 20-plus mile-per-hour winds and cold temperatures at the Notre Dame-hosted event.
"We definitely got off to a slow start as a group," Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. "Conditions were tough today but again it’s the first round and the best thing for a golfer to have is a short memory. We’ve played this course now in competition-like setting and we will learn from this.
"Obviously Kelli had a fantastic round of golf today," Estes-Taylor continued. "Emily (Tubert) birdied the last hole and shot 75. We need a group effort out there tomorrow and need to hang tough and give ourselves the opportunity."
Shean posted an even-par 72 and is the lone Razorback inside the top 10 after the first round. Shean and Razorbacks began the day on the 10th hole and the Cape Town, South Africa senior, turned plus-two with three bogies and a birdie on 18 in the first nine holes.
She counted her second birdie on hole one, with a three on the par-four and added a third on the sixth hole dropping to even for the round. Shean picked up pars on seven, eight and nine to finish even.
"One of the highlights out there for me today was the birdie on number six," Shean said. "I was looking at the line and Shauna was looking at the line and I thought it was going to come from the left and Shauna thought ‘no, no, it’s right edge’ and so we decided to putt it straight and it went right in the hole.
"It’s very important to hit the greens and save up and downs on this course," Shean added.
Freshman Emily Tubert struggled on her opening nine beginning play with doubles on 10 and 12 and a bogey on 15. Small greens and windy conditions saw Arkansas’ long-ball hitter miss some opportunities but Tubert rallied with the Razorbacks’ only birdie of the day on 17 making the turn at four-over.
The Burbank, Calif., native’s front nine saw her make adjustments and play one-under. She birdied four and nine, with eagles on both holes. Tubert finished the day with a three-over 75 and is tied for 26th place overall.
Senior Corinna Rees finished her day six-over with a 78 and is tied for 51st place. Rees was plus-one on the back nine with three bogies and a pair of birdies on 13 and 18.
Holes one through nine were more troublesome for Rees. She opened with a bogey and then birdied two but she counted a double on three and picked up three more bogies before her round was finished.
Sophomore Victoria Vela and redshirt freshman Emma Lavy both counted 10-over 82s and are tied for 104th overall. Vela was three-over heading to 18 but suffered a snowman before the turn on a tricky hole with a tough environmental hazard in play. She added three more bogies on the front nine.
Lavy was plus-nine on the back nine with two doubles and five bogies but played a much better second nine and was just one-over coming into the clubhouse.
Second-ranked UCLA is in the clubhouse with a three-over 291 leading the field after the first round. Southeastern Conference member and No. 8 LSU is second with 295 followed by No. 27 Notre Dame with 298 in third place. The rest of the top 10 includes No. 39 Minnesota in fourth with 301, No. 5 Duke, No. 40 Northwestern and No. 24 Stanford are tied for fifth with 302, No. 35 Chattanooga is eighth with 303, No. 32 Kent State is ninth with 304 and No. 30 Ohio State and No. 17 Texas are tied for 10th overall with 306.
Arkansas is nipping at the heels of the top 10 in 12th with 307 followed by No. 50 North Texas with 311, No. 15 Wake Forest and No. 47 Oklahoma State tied for 14th with 312, No. 14 Tulane and Illinois are tied for 16th with 313, Wisconsin is 18th with 314 and East Carolina rounds out the top 19 with 315. Michigan and Butler are tied for 20th overall with 316, No. 44 UNLV is in the clubhouse with 318 and Morehead State, 319, and Illinois State, 329, are the final teams in the field.
The Razorbacks are scheduled for the afternoon tee times Friday with the first player, Vela, scheduled to tee off at 12:26 p.m. Central. Watch golfstat.com for live scoring updates thought the tournament.