Top 5 from Round 1 at the NCAAs
Five thoughts from Round 1 at the NCAA Women’s Championship:
1. UNC-Wilmington coach Cindy Ho told me last week that the first three holes of the Country Club of Landfall are the toughest stretch on the course. Apparently, USC and Purdue got the memo. First-round leader USC shot a combined 1 over on those three holes. Second-place Purdue went even par on that three-hole stretch, which included a double bogey from Numa Gulyanamitta on the par-4 third.
Compare that to the two teams at the bottom of the leaderboard. Tulane, which is last in the 24-team field, shot 5 over on the opening three holes. Kent State is in 23rd place and went 6 over. Who was the dope who said, “It’s not how you start but how you finish”? Clearly, starting strong matters.
2. USC and Purdue took advantage of the short par-5 18th hole. The Trojans went 4 under on No. 18, highlighted by an eagle from Jennifer Song. Purdue had three birdies and a bogey to shoot 2 under.
3. It’s not the Pac-10 Championship “East” so far, after all. With Purdue in second, Duke tied for third and Alabama tied for sixth, these three Eastern schools are hanging around. This tournament is far from over. There are plenty of birdie opportunities out there. Can Purdue, Duke and Alabama can keep the pressure on the “Big Three”?
4. The individual race is going to be a fun one to watch. Arizona State’s Jennifer Johnson, Purdue’s Maude Aimee-LeBlanc and Song are tied for first at 5 under. Johnson had seven birdies, LeBlanc had six and Song had four with an eagle. Players are finding birdies on this Pete Dye course. Nineteen players will begin Round 2 under par. I never would have thought this would be a shootout!
5. The 445-yard, par-5 18th hole had a scoring average of 4.5 in Round 1. With so many players making birdie – or even eagle – the 18th hole is where all the action is. A majority of players seem to have a clear shot at going for the green in two. And that makes me wonder: Should the 18th just be a very long par 4? Either way, come Friday . . . this is where all excitement will be. Even a couple-shot lead can evaporate in a matter of seconds.