West: Stanford goes low for first-round lead
Top team: Stanford (287)
Top individual: Sydney Burlison (Stanford)
In position: 2. North Carolina (288), 3. UCLA (290), 4. LSU (291), T-5. Illinois, California (296), T-7. Colorado, Pepperdine, Tulsa (297)
Chasing: T-10. Texas Tech, Baylor (300), T-12. UNLV, Iowa State, TCU, San Jose State (302)
Appropriately, in the red: Stanford can claim a distinct honor now that Round 1 of NCAA Women’s Regionals is over. It was the only one of 72 teams across the country to shoot a team score in the red on Thursday.
The Cardinal got hot on the back nine at Colorado National in Erie, Colo., combining for 13 birdies to charge up the leaderboard and finish at 1-under 287. Stanford tops North Carolina by one shot.
Senior Sydney Burlison came up big for the Cardinals, opening with a 5-under 67 that gave her the individual lead. Junior Sally Watson added a 71.
On their Heels: The Tar Heels appear to have put a mid-season lull behind them. Coming off a runner-up finish at the ACC Championship last month, North Carolina took its place at the top of the West Regional leaderboard Thursday with an even-par 288.
Like Stanford, North Carolina made a run on the finishing holes as sophomores Casey Grice and Katherine Perry birdied No. 17 and senior Catherine O’Donnell birdied the 18th hole.
“Obviously I’m pleased with the way the team performed today,” head coach Jan Mann said. “I think the most important thing is that every one of them played well so every one of them contributed. The course is a long golf course, but our team handled it very well, stayed extremely patient and putted well.”
North Carolina is benefiting from a healthy O’Donnell, who had surgery in the off-season to repair an injury to her left thumb. Since returning to the roster with a clean bill of health this spring, O’Donnell has won once (co-medalist at the LSU Golf Classic) and placed inside the top 15 three times. She led the Tar Heels Thursday with a 2-under 70 that left her third individually.
Short shots: Top-ranked and top-seeded UCLA landed in third at the end of Day 1, only three shots behind Stanford. Lee Lopez was the Bruins’ top scorer with a 71. . . . Colorado National had its defenses up Thursday in the form of lightning-fast greens. Colorado head coach Anne Kelly compared them to U.S. Open greens. “We’ve never seen the greens this fast before, but it’s great experience for these players. It is a championship course, for sure.”
–Information from North Carolina, Colorado Athletics used in this report