Central: UCLA storms to lead in defense
Once again, UCLA is looking comfortable in the Central.
The Bruins shot 4-under 284 Thursday at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course to take an 11-shot lead after the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Central Regional.
The Bruins, No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, are the region’s top seed for the second consecutive year. They won by 10 shots last year at the University of Texas Golf Club.
Three of the top four players on the leaderboard are Bruins. Freshman Stephanie Kono (pictured) and sophomore Maria Jose Uribe, the defending Central champion, are tied for the lead at 3-under 69.
Bruins junior Sydnee Michaels is tied for third with ACC champion Natalie Sheary of Wake Forest, one shot off the lead. Michaels won the 2007 East Regional.
Kono, winner of the UCF Challenge and medalist at the Collegiate Match Play, could bolster her player-of-the-year candidacy with a good showing. Uribe is looking to end her college career on a high note; she is leaving UCLA after the NCAA Championship to be with her family in Colombia before beginning a pro career.
Kono is No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, while Uribe is ranked 32nd.
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Two teams located a little closer to the tournament site – No. 23 Michigan State and No. 9 Purdue – are tied for second after shooting 7-over 295.
Purdue, winner of this year’s Big Ten title, was led by its 1-2 punch of Maria Hernandez and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc. The pair tied for the Big Ten individual title.
LeBlanc is tied for fifth after shooting 71, while Hernandez is tied for ninth at 73. LeBlanc shot 33 on her opening nine holes, but had two bogeys and no birdies on the back nine.
The Boilermakers finished 37 shots ahead of second-place Michigan State at the conference championship. No Spartans broke par, but the team was able to avoid trouble. Its throw-out score was a 76.
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Three of the top eight seeds currently are outside the top eight, including host Ohio State, which is 10th at 18 over par, but only three shots outside the cut line. The Buckeyes are the No. 8 seed.
Fifth-seeded Louisville is another two shots back and in a tie for 11th, while sixth-seeded Kent State is in ninth at 17 over par.
Chattanooga is the lowest-seeded team currently in the top eight. The Mocs, the No. 16 seed, are tied for seventh with Georgia State at 15-over 303. The Mocs were led by their No. 5 player, Moa Duf, who shot 74.