NCAA women's golf: Vanderbilt takes early lead at Auburn Regional

Courtesy: Tim Cowle

NCAA women's golf: Vanderbilt takes early lead at Auburn Regional

College

NCAA women's golf: Vanderbilt takes early lead at Auburn Regional

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It’s been a good season for Vanderbilt, a season that just got a little bit better on Monday after posting the only sub-par round of the day at the NCAA Auburn Regional.

Led by Auston Kim’s 2-under 70 on the 6,371-yard Saugahatchee Country Club layout, the Commodores posted a 1-under 287 to finish three shots clear of Duke (290).

Rounding out the top six are Florida State (291), East Carolina (291), Tennessee (294) and Maryland (294). The top six teams will advance to the NCAA finals later this month at the Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Ark.

Kim shares the individual lead with Tennessee’s Micheala Williams and Maryland’s Virunpat Olankitkunchai.

REGION SCORES: Auburn | Cle Elum | Norman | East Lansing

Vanderbilt has won four times this year, with three of those wins coming this spring at the UCF Challenge, Reynolds Lake Oconee Invite and Clemson Invitational. The Commodores placed fourth in stroke play at the SEC Championship and then lost to Georgia in the quarterfinals.

“I thought the girls played really solid today and showed a lot of patience,” said Vanderbilt coach Greg Allen, who is now in his 11th season with the Commodores. “I think we came in with a good mindset and a lot of confidence. Auston played great and Courtney really battled after starting with three straight bogeys. We know there’s a lot of golf to be played and we need to continue to be steady and stay where our feet are.”

LIVE BLOG: Follow the regionals

A lot of golf, indeed. Winning is always the goal, but this week advancing is all that really matters.

“One of the girls talked about winning, but deep down all I want to do is get our ticket punched to Fayetteville,” said Allen.

No. 14 making noise early

East Carolina spent time atop the leaderboard early in round one before settling in with a 3-over 291 to tie for third place with Florida State. The Pirates made the trip to Opelika as an at-large bid and the No. 14 seed.

“We have a good ball striking team and this course is a ball striker’s course,” said East Carolina coach Kevin Williams. “Long way to go, but obviously pleased with the start.”

The Pirates best finish this year was fourth, which they did three times including a fourth-place showing at the American Conference Championship. However, East Carolina had some momentum after beating several postseason teams in Puerto Rico earlier this spring.

“We talked about knowing we could play with those teams and all about believing in the work we have put in,” said Williams. “Trust the plan and executing aggressively.”

Since the NCAA went to a four-team regional only twice has the 14th seed advanced: Campbell in 2015 and Michigan State in 2017.

Chip shots

Frida Kinhult, the top-ranked individual in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, posted a 2-over 74 in a round that feature two birdies and four bogeys … the average score in round 1 was a 75.97. … Day 2 of the three-day event is on Tuesday.

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