Tuesday, February 21, 2017

There's no catching Furman at Central District Invitational



   It would be tough for North Carolina, ranked 32nd by Golfstat, to complain about a fourth-place finish in the Central District Invitational hosted by Michigan State at the St. Lucie Trail Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. to open the spring portion of its schedule.
   But the Tar Heels and the rest of the field had to feel a little blindsided by No. 7 Furman, which finished 23 shots clear of the field with an even-par 864 after a final round of  5-over 293 Tuesday.
The Paladins were playing in their second event of the spring and it showed. After leading through two rounds of last week’s Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Furman was overtaken by North Carolina State and finished tied for second.
   There was no catching Furman this week as the Paladins started fast with a 6-under 282 in the first round, built a 14-shot advantage through two rounds and were never threatened Tuesday. The Paladins placed four players in the top six in the final individual standings.
   That group was led by individual champion Alice Chen, a junior from Princeton, N.J. Chen had a final round of 2-over 74 over the 6,265-yard, par-72 St. Lucie Trail layout for a 1-under 215 total. She edged Memphis’ Michaela Fletcher, a redshirt sophomore from South Africa, by a shot after Fletcher had the day’s best round, a 4-under 68, to finish at even-par 216. St. Lucie Trail appeared to play quite a bit tougher than it did during Monday’s double round.
    Fletcher helped No. 100 Memphis claim runnerup honors as the Tigers had the day’s best team score, a 1-under 287, to finish at 23-over 887. No. 49 Louisville was another three shots back in third at 890 after a final-round 305. North Carolina was six shots behind the Cardinals in fourth at 896 after a final-round 297. No. 64 Maryland was fifth at 900 after a final-round 299 and host Michigan State, ranked 98th, and No. 44 Augusta University shared sixth place at 909. The Wolverines had a final-round 305 while Augusta struggled home with a 313.
   Furman’s other Jersey girl, Taylor Totland, a senior from Tinton Falls, N.J., finished third in the individual chase at 1-over 217 after a final-round 77. Natalie Srinivasan, a freshman from Spartanburg, S.C., finished fifth at 3-over 219 after a final-round 74. And Haylee Harford, a sophomore from Leavittsburg, Ohio., was another shot back in sixth at 220 after a 1-under 71. Harford earned a share of the individual title in Puerto Rico last week.
   Louisville was led by Lauren Hartlage, a freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky. who finished fourth in the individual standings at 2-pover 218. Hartlage posted a final-round 78.
   It wasn’t exactly the start to the spring campaign that veteran North Carolina coach Jan Mann envisioned, but there were some things to build on for the Tar Heels.
   North Carolina got a pair of top-10 finishes as Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., and Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md., were among the players tied for seventh at 5-over 221. Both signed for a 2-over 74 in the final round.
   Brynn Walker, the two-time PIAA champion from Radnor, snuck into the top 20, the freshman finishing tied for 20th at 9-over 225. Walker, installed into the starting lineup from Day 1 of her freshman campaign, had a final-round 75.
   Leslie Coots, a senior from Belgium, finished 32nd at 230 after a final-round 74. Rachel Jones, a senior from Asheboro, N.C., finished tied for 63rd at 242 after struggling home in the final round with an 86.




Monday, February 20, 2017

North Carolina is fourth after two rounds in Port St. Lucie



   North Carolina, No. 32 in the latest Golfstat rankings, opened the spring portion of its season Monday with a pair of rounds that left the Tar Heels in fourth place in the Central District Invitational, hosted by Michigan State at the St. Lucie Trail Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
   Nobody in the field was a match for No. 7 Furman, which picked up right where it left off a week earlier at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic as the Paladins put together an opening round of 6-under 282 with an afternoon of 1-over 289 for a 5-under 571 total that gave them a 14-shot lead.
   No. 49 Louisville is alone in second place as the Cardinals added an afternoon 298 to a 1-under 287 in the opening round for a 9-over 585 total. No. 44 Augusta University is another 11 shots behind Louisville in third place at 596 after rounds of 297 and 299. North Carolina is three shots behind Augusta in fourth place at 599 after rounds of 298 and 301.
   No. 100 Memphis is fourth at 600 after rounds of 301 and 299, No. 64 Maryland is fifth at 601 after rounds of 293 and 308 and host Michigan State, ranked 98th, is sixth at 604 after rounds of 304 and 300.
   North Carolina was led by Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., and Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md., both of whom are tied for seventh in the individual standings at 3-over 147. Whaley matched par with a 72 in her opening round over the 6,265-yard, par-72 St. Lucie Trail layout before adding a 75 in the afternoon. Nguyen had the best afternoon round for the Tar Heels, a 1-over 73,  after opening with a 74.
   Freshman Brynn Walker, the two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor, also had a strong start with a 1-over 73 before falling back with an afternoon 77. Walker is tied for 22nd at 6-over 150.
Leslie Cloots, a senior from Belgium, and Rachel Jones, a senior from Asheboro, N.C., are tied for 39th at 12-over 156. Cloots struggled with rounds of 79 and 77. Jones bounced back from an opening-round 80 with an afternoon 76 that was a counter for the Tar Heels.
   Furman was in contention for three days in Puerto Rico before finishing tied for second.
Taylor Totland, a senior from Tinton Falls, N.J., got the Paladins going right from the start with a sizzling 4-under 68 in the opening round. She matched par with a 72 in the afternoon to get a share of first place at 4-under 140 with Louisville’s Lauren Hartlage, a freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky. who had a pair of 70s.
   Furman’s Alice Chen, a junior from Princeton, N.J., had rounds of 70 and 71 and is alone in third place at 3-under 141.
   The Paladins got a third sub-par opening round from Natalie Srinivasan, a freshman from Spartanburg, S.C. who fired a 2-under 70. An afternoon 75 left her in fourth place at 1-over 145.
Haylee Harford, a sophomore from Leavittsburg, Ohio., got a piece of the individual title in Puerto Rico last week, but started slowly Monday. Still, with rounds of 74 and 75, Harford is tied for 19th at 5-over 149.
   Harford was joined at 149 by teammate Reona Hirai, a junior from Summerville, S.C. Hirai opened with a 78, but bounced back with a 1-under 71 that kept the momentum going for the Paladins on a long double-round day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

N.C. State, Southern Cal take tourney titles in Puerto Rico, California, respectively



   Furman’s Haylee Harford held on to her share of the individual title, but the Paladins, ranked No. 7 by Golfstat, could not hold off North Carolina State in the team chase in the final round of the Lady Puerto Rico Classic Tuesday at Rio Mor Country Club’s River Course in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
   Led by Naomi Ko, a sophomore from Canada who was one of four players who got a piece of the individual title with Harford, the Wolfpack, ranked 33rd, had a final-round of 3-under 285 to edge Furman and No. 15 Kent State by a shot with a 13-over 877 total. Furman had final-round 295 and Kent State had a 292 as they shared second place at 14-over 878.
   No. 31 TCU had a final-round 293 to take fourth at 19-over 883 and No. 5 Georgia closed strong with a 292 to finish fifth at 20-over 884. Ko had a final round of 2-under 70 over the 6,164-yard, par-72 River Course layout to finish at 1-under 215 to share the title with Harford and three others.
N.C. State, another entry in what looks like a really strong Atlantic Coast Conference this spring, also got a 2-under 70 from Sarah Bae, a senior from Pinehurst, N.C., as she finished tied for ninth at 2-over 218, a 75 from Indira Clyburn  a sophomore from England, as she finished tied for 38th at 226 and a huge 70 from Leonie Bettel, a sophomore from Austria, as she moved up to a tie for 47th at 228.
   Harford had a final-round 76 as she finished at 1-under 215, tied for the top spot with Ko and three others.
   A pair of Baylor players Maria Vesga, a sophomore from Colombia, and Amy Lee,  a junior from Orange County, Calif., also snuck into that five-way tie at 215 as Vesga matched par with a 72 and Lee carded a 1-over 73. The last member of the five-way logjam at the top was Maryland’s Panitta Yusabai, a senior from Thailand who had a final-round 73. Harford’s Furman teammate, Taylor Totland, of Tinton Falls, N.J., had a final-round 72 to finish just a shot out of the five-way tie for first at even-par 216.
   With a second straight 298, host Purdue, ranked 14th, moved up to 11th place at 804.
   The Boilermakers were led by Covadonga Sanjuan, a sophomore from Spain who had a final-round 74 to finish tied for 16th at 4-over 220. After struggling in the first two rounds, Marta Martin, a junior from Spain, had a final-round 73 to move up to a tie for 55th. Purdue’s other counters Tuesday were senior August Kim, the reigning Big Ten champion from St. Augustine, Fla. who matched par with a 72 to move into a tie for 43rd at 227, and Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru who had a 79 to finish tied for 66th at 234.
   Meanwhile, a couple thousand miles away at the Northrop Grumann Regional Challenge, hosted by Ohio State at the Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif., No. 2 Southern California put its considerable depth on display as the Trojans edged No. 14 Arizona State for the team title.
   Also, Duke’s Leona Maguire, a junior from Ireland, showed why she’s the No. 1 player in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking by grabbing a share of the top spot with two other players.
   USC posted a final-round of 5-over 289 to finish at 4-over 856. Arizona State, with a second straight 2-under 282, was a shot back at 857. No. 22 Duke, with Maguire leading the way, was third at 859 after a final-round 285, No. 6 Florida was 20 shots worse than its sizzling 275 in the middle round with a 295 total that left the Gators in fourth place at 860 and No. 3 Alabama finished fifth at 867 after a final-round 287.
   USC’s Robynn Ree, a sophomore from Redondo Beach, Calif., entered the final round among the contenders for the individual title, but she faltered with a 78. She still finished tied for 14th at 216, but her teammates picked her up in a big way.
   Victoria Morgan, a redshirt senior from Pasadena, Calif., had a final-round 71 over the 6,017-yard, par-71 Palos Verdes layout to finish tied for seventh at 213.  Gabriella Then, a senior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., had a 74 and Tiffany Chan, a senior from Hong Kong, had a 78 as they finished tied for 17th at 218. And Muni He,  a freshman from San Diego, really put the Trojans over the top with a 1-under 70 to finish tied for 24th at 219.
   Duke’s Maguire carded a final-round 70 to get a share of the individual title at 4-under 209. She was joined at that figure by Florida’s Taylor Tomlinson, a junior from Gainesville, Fla. who had a final-round 69, and UNLV’s Mackenzie Raim, a junior from Palm Desert, Calif. who matched Tomlinson’s 2-under 69.
   Florida’s Kelly Grassel, a senior from Chesteton, Ind., was brought along to compete as an individual and nearly won the individual title. A final-round 73 left her a shot back of the winning trio at 3-under 210.
   Host Ohio State, the reigning Big Ten co-champion which is ranked 24th, finished 13th at 886.