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Team leader: Vanderbilt (11-under 277)
Individual leader: Emily Penttila, Tulane (7-under 65)
In position (the next seven): 2. Tulane (280), 3. Virginia (283), 4. Duke (284) 5. North Carolina State (286), T-6. Texas State (289), T-6. Central Florida (289), T.6 East Tennessee State (289)
Chasing (still work to do): T-9. Pepperdine (290), Florida State (290), T-11. South Carolina (291), T-11. Stanford (291) T-11. Campbell (291)
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Vandy coach Greg Allen won’t rest until his team is safely into the NCAA Championship field (the top 8 teams advance).
“I don’t look at who’s ahead,” Allen said, “I’m looking at that eighth spot.”
No need to look ahead anyway, coach. Vanderbilt leads the field by three strokes after a course-record 11-under 277 at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla. The Commodores, fresh off an SEC title, carried that momentum into regionals with two players – Simin Feng and Jenny Hahn – shooting 68.
Both Feng and Irina Gabasa chipped in for eagle on the par-5 fourth hole (Vandy’s back nine) to give the team a big boost. Gabasa finished 2 under while Antonia Scherer shot 71.
Allen said he realized this season he’d been putting too much pressure on chasing a trophy and went back to his roots.
“I just focused on loving my team and serving my team,” Allen said.
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Rounds don’t start much hotter than Emily Penttila’s first-round efforts. The Tulane sophomore holed out for eagle with a 56-degree sand wedge to get things started on No. 10 (her first hole). She followed that 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole and a 10-foot birdie on the third. Penttila hit pitching wedge into both greens.
After getting up-and-down for par on the fourth, Penttila hit a 6-iron to 15 feet on the fifth hole to get to 5 under.
“I think regionals makes us all more focused and determined,” said Penttila, who posted eight birdies at Auburn’s course last year to open regionals.
A bogey on the par-4 18th was her only blemish. Penttila poured in three more birdies on the inward nine to shoot a women’s collegiate course-record and career-best 7-under 65.
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No refresh here
Stanford’s Anne Walker looked at live scoring for the first time after she had a post-round team meeting. Probably for the best, since it wasn’t a banner day for the third-seeded Cardinal.
Mariah Stackhouse, who led the team with a 68, said she appreciates that her coach doesn’t get caught up on her phone during the round.
It’s a tough draw for a west-coast team like Stanford to travel cross-country and adjust to Bermuda grass. Stackhouse, a Georgia girl, gave her team a short tutorial before they flew South on chipping off Bermuda and judging the grain.
Stackhouse, who owns the NCAA scoring record of 61, said her 68 could’ve easily been a 65 or 66. She didn’t have a single putt outside of 30 feet today.
Stanford is tied for 11th, two shots out of eighth place.
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Texas State, the 19th seed, looks to crash a powerhouse party after a 1-over 289 put them in a tie for sixth. The Bobcats are playing without senior Mara Puisite, who lost in playoff for the individual title at the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Puisite broke a toe after conference play.
Maty Monzingo, who was kept off the conference lineup for a poor academic progress report, shot 71 on Day 1 of regional action.
“This year nobody is looking at us,” said Akers, who feels his team enters this week feeling no pressure. They certainly played like it. … Duke’s Yu Liu posted seven birdies and shot 1-over 73. … Five teams and 20 individuals finished the day under par. … UNC-Wilmington’s Lori Beth Adams, competing as an individual, shot 4-under 68 and is tied for third.