Albuquerque Regional: Ninth-seeded Pepperdine takes unexpected early lead

Albuquerque Regional: Ninth-seeded Pepperdine takes unexpected early lead

Women

Albuquerque Regional: Ninth-seeded Pepperdine takes unexpected early lead

Leaderboard

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TOP TEAM: Pepperdine (1-under 287)

TOP INDIVIDUAL: Laura Kowohi, North Carolina State (3-under 69)

IN POSITION: Stanford (290), USC (295), California (295), Washington (295), Campbell (297), Duke (297)

CHASING: North Carolina State (301), SMU (302), Miami (303), Oklahoma State (304), Denver (305)

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WAVES GET EARLY JUMP: Pepperdine was 11 shots back at its conference championship, falling to BYU. That appears to be ancient history. This time the Waves are falling behind nobody, at least for now, as the team jumped out to a three-shot lead through 18 holes. There were a couple bright moments of the spring – specifically a third-place showing at the fierce SDSU March Mayhem match-play tournament – but the Waves had placed no better than sixth in a full-field, stroke-play tournament in the spring until that runner-up finish at the WCC Championship. No matter, there’s been a sweeping change so far at regionals. Tatiana Wijaya, who finished sixth at WCCs, leads the way in second at 2 under. Hira Naveed and Patricia Wong are tied for fourth at even par. Momoka Kobori finishes out the counting scores with a 1-over 73 and T-14. None of these players are ranked in the top 100, but they proved an incredible force Monday.

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DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPS BATTLE BACK: While top seed Stanford is nice and cozy in solo second at 2 over, it was unclear how Washington would do this week. The defending national champions have had a difficult follow-up campaign, at one point rating 88th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings as regionals looked like they may very well not happen at all. But Washington rallied and earned a 10 seed. Still, that meant the Huskies were expected to show up and not advance. That appeared to be the case when Washington found itself near the bottom of the leaderboard in Round 1, but the Huskies battled and by way of a cumulative counting 1-under score on their final nine, leaped to a tie for third at 7 over. Sophomore Julianne Alvarez, the clincher at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club in 2016, leads the way in a tie fourth at even par. Fellow sophomores Sarah Rhee (T-4, even par) and Wenyung Keh (T-14, 1 over) are also flying high. Karen Miyamoto, a freshman who joined the team in the spring, is T-63 at 6 over. Overall, with 36 holes to go, the Huskies are in position to get back to the tournament that earned them all the glory a year ago.

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SHORT SHOTS: The Cardinal’s freshman star Andrea Lee is actually only tied for 30th at 3 over. Stanford is second on the strength of a different freshman, Albane Valenzuela, who is solo third at 1 under. Casey Danielson and Shannon Aubert are both tied for fourth. …  Second-seeded USC is sitting well in a tie for third thanks to the opening 72 (T-4) for Victoria Morgan. … Campbell, the No. 12 seed, is tied for the last spot in with sixth place at 9 over. Remember that the Camels made it to nationals as a 14 seed two years ago. … Duke, the region’s No. 3 seed, is tied for sixth with Campbell. … Sixth-seeded North Carolina State boasts the leader in Laura Kowohl, who opened in 3-under 69 for a one-shot cushion. Her team sits eighth at 13 over. … Seventh-seeded California is tied for third while the No. 4 and 5 seeds (Miami and Oklahoma State) are 10th at 15 over and 11th at 16 over, respectively.

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