May 10, 2012
Columbus, Ohio –
The Notre Dame women’s golf team fired an opening round of 16-over par 304 on Thursday afternoon and is fourth among 24 teams after the first day of play at the NCAA Central Regional at Ohio State’s famed Scarlet Course.
The Irish trail tournament leader – third-ranked Southern California – by six shots as the Trojans are 10-over par with a first round total of 298 on the par-72, 6,264-yard Scarlet Course. Ninth-ranked Georgia is in second, five shots ahead of Notre Dame with an 11-over mark of 299 and Purdue is third, three shots ahead of the Irish with a 13-over par total of 301.
Notre Dame, ranked 49th in the most recent Golfstat rankings, has a two-stroke lead on 14th-ranked Tennessee and fourth-ranked Auburn as those two schools are tied for fifth with 306 totals. North Carolina State (307) is seventh and Oregon, Virginia and Vanderbilt round out the top-10 teams with 308 totals.
South Florida, winners of the BIG EAST title by one stroke over the Irish, is 11th overall, five strokes off the Notre Dame pace with a 21-over par 309.
Leading the way for the Irish on day one was freshman Ashley Armstrong (Flossmoor, Ill.) and senior Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.). Armstrong birdied her last three holes on the afternoon to finish at even par 72 and is in a four-way tie for fourth place. She is one of seven golfers in the field of 126 to be par or better after 18 holes.
Huffer is just one stroke behind Armstrong and in a four-way tie for eighth as she opened with a one-over par 73. The best any Notre Dame women’s golfer has finished in an NCAA regional was Nicole Zhang with an eighth-place finish at last year’s Central Regional.
Armstrong trails tournament leader Marina Alex of Vanderbilt by two strokes while Huffer is three behind Alex, who opened with a two-under par 70, on a sunny, but windy day in Columbus. Paula Reto of Purdue and Florida State’s Maria Salas are tied for second at one-under par 71.
The Irish started play at 12:30 on the 10th hole and Armstrong was even par after eight holes with two birdies and two bogeys before finishing at 18 with a double bogey to be two-over par on the back nine.
She started her second nine with back-to-back birdies on one and two to get back to even par after 11 holes. The birdies were followed by consecutive bogeys on three, four and five to put her three over par after 14 holes. After parring the par five sixth hole, Armstrong closed out the round with three consecutive birdies on seven (par 4), eight (par 3) and nine (par 4) for her total of 72.
On the day, the talented freshman had seven birdies and now has five rounds of par or better in her rookie year.
Huffer opened with a bogey on 10 before birdies on 12 and 15 put her one stroke off the lead at one-under par after six holes. She closed the front nine with back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18 for a one-over par 37 on her first nine holes.
The senior captain then put together a consistent second nine holes, getting one birdie and one bogey to finish with a one-over par 73. She birdied the par 4 second hole to go back to even par and then had a bogey on the par four seventh for her 73 and a tie for eighth place after 18 holes.
Freshman Kelli Oride (Lihue, Hawaii) finished third among Notre Dame’s golfers with a six-over par 78, picking up one birdie to go with seven bogeys in her round. The 78 ties her with 10 other golfers in 42nd place.
Sophomore Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif.) is tied for 78th in the field of 126 golfers as she fired an opening round of nine over par 81.
Senior Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz.) rounds out the Irish contingent as her opening round of 85 puts her at 113th after Thursday’s round.
After opening on the back nine at 12:30 on Thursday, the Irish will have an early start in Friday’s second round as they start on the first hole at 8:00 a.m. Notre Dame, seeded 17th in the tournament, will again be paired with golfers from 16-seed South Florida and 18th-seed Texas-San Antonio.
The Irish will look to continue their strong play through Saturday. The top eight team finishers and the top two individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship at Vanderbilt’s Legends Golf Course in Franklin, Tenn., May 22-25.
This is Notre Dame’s fifth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance under coach Susan Holt and the seventh in the program’s history. The Irish advance to the NCAA Championship last year for the first time after finishing fifth at the Central Regional that was held at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course.
TEAM RESULTS (18-hole totals): 1. Southern California 298; 2. Georgia 299; 3. Purdue 301; 4. Notre Dame 304; t.5. Tennessee 306; Auburn 306; 7. North Carolina State 307; t8. Oregon 308; Virginia 308; Vanderbilt 308; 11. South Florida 309; t12. Ohio State 310; Arkansas 310; 14. Florida State 314; t15. Mississippi 315; Harvard 315; Michigan 315; 18. Texas-San Antonio 317; 19. Texas State 320; 20. Butler 321; 21. Kentucky 322; 22. UNC-Wilmington 323; 23. Siena 328; 24. East Carolina 329.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS (of 126): 1. Marina Alex (Vanderbilt) 70; t2. Paula Reto (Purdue) 71; Maria Salinas (Florida State) 71; t4. Ashley Armstrong (Notre Dame) 72; Alex Buelow (Stetson) 72; Doris Chen (USC) 72; Madeleine Sheils (Nebraska) 72; t8. Becca Huffer (Notre Dame) 73; Rocio Sanchez Lobato (Georgia) 73; Lisa McCloskey (USC) 73; Tiffany Lin (Harvard) 73.