Five things: Tulane tops tight UCF leaderboard
If the first-round leaderboard is any indication, the final round of the UCF Challenge could present its share of excitement. A handful of teams came out of the gate firing Sunday at Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla. Consider this your primer for the next two rounds.
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1.) Not much elbow room
Taking a closer look at that bunched leaderboard, the first five teams on the list all are within a single shot of one another, with Tulane leading the pack at 4-under 284. Coastal Carolina is one shot back, followed by UCF, Kentucky and Minnesota at even par.
Jump down another line to sixth-place Texas and the trend starts again, with the next five teams also in a one-shot pattern. Unless somebody makes a charge Monday, Tuesday could shake out to be one intense battle.
2.) Keep an eye on the Wave
It comes as no surprise Tulane has the early lead, as its the highest-ranked team in the field, checking in at No. 15 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. The Green Wave got red scores from senior Janine Fellows (70), junior Ashley McKenney (70) and sophomore Maribel Lopez Porras (71) on its way to a 4-under 284. At one point, Tulane led by as many as five shots, but began to leak a little oil coming in to the clubhouse.
Fellows is one to keep in mind for the individual race, too. Ranked No. 27 by Golfweek, the senior had two top 10s in the fall, including a runner-up finish at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
3.) Record performance
Speaking of UCF, the No. 91-ranked Knights fired a 2-under 286 that goes into the record books as the lowest team score in school history. It’s not much of a surprise from a young team (just one senior is in the lineup) that almost exactly one year ago won its first tournament since 2002.
“We played a great round of golf today and it’s an incredible start to the tournament,” said UCF head coach Courtney Trimble, in her second year at the helm. “I couldn't be more pleased with the overall team performance. There is still a lot of golf left to play, but we are excited with our first-round scores.”
4.) Fast start to 2011
Kentucky sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht is continuing the solid play that earned her a hard-fought win earlier this year at the Harder Hall. Albrecht shot a course-record 63 to open the Harder Hall, and the win earned her an exemption into the Futures Tour’s season-opening Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
Albrecht’s low round during her freshman campaign was 70. She bested that considerably Sunday with a bogey-free, 6-under 66 that included four birdies and an eagle.
5.) Watch out for Coastal
The Chanticleers have one win and one runner-up finish so far this season, and are looking to pick up right where they left off in the fall. Sophomore Jessica Alexander, who holds a share of the lead with Albrecht, bested her career round by two during the first round, and got some backup from senior Alicia Grier (70). Freshman Courtney Boe, who opened with a 77, could be the key to the Chanticleers sticking near the top. Boe has one win and one runner-up from the fall season.
– Information from UCF Athletics used in this report.