East: Everything’s just fine for Pepperdine
Lance Ringler and Asher Wildman break down all of the action from Round 1 of the NCAA Women's Regionals.
Leader: Auburn (8-under 280)
Individual leader: Nina Muehl, East Tennessee State (8-under 64)
The top 8: 2. Pepperdine (281), 3. South Carolina (283), 3. Tennessee (283), 5. Florida (284), T-6. Tulane, East Tennessee State, Texas Tech (285)
Close behind: 9. TCU (287), 10. Duke (290), 10. Georgia State (290)
Waves aren’t crashing here: Pepperdine made quite the cross-country trek to get to Greenville, N.C., but doesn’t appear any worse for the wear. The Waves are one shot behind Auburn after a 7-under 281 Thursday at Ironwood Country Club in the first round of the NCAA Women’s East Regional.
Three Pepperdine players found red numbers Thursday, including freshman Danielle Kang and sophomore Jessica Wallace, both of whom carded 5-under 67s. Sophomore Lisa McCloskey put up 2-under 70.
“Going out to a regional and shooting under par is solid, so I’m really happy,” said head coach Laurie Gibbs, standing about 2,400 miles from Pepperdine’s Malibu, Calif., campus.
Ironwood fits the Waves well, and they took advantage Thursday.
“The girls really like the course,” said Gibbs, who encouraged her team to view the round as just a qualifier, play smart and avoid big numbers.
“I think they felt like it was a good course for them. Good places to hit it off the tee. It’s a good second-shot course where they’re pretty strong with their irons. I think that showed today, they hit a lot of greens.”
Two more rounds like Thursday and Pepperdine will be making the trip east again in no time.
Turn up the Vol-ume: Don’t count out Tennessee. The Lady Vols tied their best 18-hole round of the year, a 5-under 283, and is sitting pretty in a tie for third.
So what happens now? Head coach Judi Pavon just wants the Lady Vols to back it up with another good performance in Round 2, which has proven to be their problem round this year.
To combat such a letdown, Pavon said each player has personal goals to focus on this week.
“If we play like we’ve been playing all year it shouldn’t be an issue,” Pavon said. “It only becomes an issue when you freak out and that’s what we talked about last night, just really having a good attitude and being mature.”
Pavon said she knows the Lady Vols have the physical game to advance to nationals, they just need to stay on top their mental game.
“They were tough today and they did a really good job of that,” she said.
Pavon has good feelings about the course. She was afraid to tell her players they could shoot low after the practice round – as she didn’t want them to feel like they had to shoot low – but now they’ve seen for themselves that they have the greenlight.
“It’s set up really well, it’s really fair, the greens are nice, the pin placements are generous so it was bound to have good scores out here today,” Pavon said.
Hey, down here: Looking for Duke and Wake Forest on the leaderboard? Well, you’ll have to look down a little bit. The Blue Devils are T-10 after a 2-over 290, while Wake Forest is T-16 at 8 over. It might be early, but these two teams, seeded No. 1 and 3, respectively, will have to kick it into gear in the next two rounds to secure a spot in the top 8.
As for second-seeded Auburn, things are looking much brighter, as the Tigers hold a one-shot lead over Pepperdine.
Auburn head coach Kim Evans’ strategy is simple, and it hangs from a chain around her neck: “Believe.”
“We’re going to do what we always do,” Evans said of Auburn’s post-round plans. “Just kind of evaluate and go take care of what we can and try to get it settled and then get some rest, get hydrated, fed up, and get back out here tomorrow and go to work again.”
Quote of the day: “You’ve got to smile and nod and take it with a grain of salt and remember that there are 36 holes left.” – Duke senior Alison Whitaker on her first-round 73.