Notre Dame was the highest-ranked team in the field (No. 27 by Golfweek) as it hosted the Clover Cup at the Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. Friday, but the Irish struggled a little with the favorite role.
Not that the pressure seemed to bother Isabella DiLisio, the freshman who won the 2013 PIAA Class title as a junior at Mount St. Joseph and the 2014 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur crown. DiLisio toured the 6,184-yard, par-72 Longbow layout in 1-under 71 and sits in a tie for seventh following the opening round.
The Irish got a solid 2-over 74 from their veteran, Tricia Campbell, a senior from Dallas who is tied for 27th. But the trio of Jordan Ferreira, a junior from University Place, Wash., Emma Albrecht, a freshman from Ormond Beach, Fla., and Maddie Rose Hamilton, a freshman from Louisville, Ky., all checked in at 77, tied for 49th in the individual standings.
It all added up to an opening-round 299 that left the Irish tied for seventh with Tulsa. Coming off a solid sixth-place finish at the Westbrook Spring Invitational last month in which its highest single-day score was 290, it left Notre Dame hoping to bounce back in Saturday’s second round.
Texas Christian University, ranked 42nd, holds the first-round lead with a 4-under 284 total, a shot better than Southern Methodist University, ranked 44th, which sits in second following a 3-under 285. The Horned Frogs and the Mustangs were led by some of the top finishers in the individual standings.
TCU’s Brooke Graebe, a freshman from Yorba Linda, Calif., earned a share of the opening-round lead with South Florida’s Nicole Autrique, a junior from Mexico, at 5-under 67.
SMU’s Katie Page, a junior from Louisville, Ky., and Alexandra Rossi, a senior from Austin, Texas, had rounds of 3-under 69 and 2-under 70, respectively, to lead the way for the Mustangs. Page is alone in fourth place while Rossi is tied for fifth with Florida International University’s Meghan MacLaren, a senior from England.
Oklahoma’s Hannah Wood, a sophomore from Centennial, Colo., has sole possession of third place, a shot back of the co-leaders following a 4-under 68.
Autrique helped South Florida to an even-par 288 total that left the Bulls in third. Wood and Oklahoma are fourth at 2-over 290, University of North Carolina-Wilmington is fifth at 3-over 291 and MacLaren and FIU are sixth at 8-over 296.
Following Notre Dame and Tulsa in the tie for seventh at 299 are Penn State and Nebraska, the two Big Ten entrants in a tie for ninth at 13-over 301.
Some of DiLisio’s familiar rivals from her high school days are teeing it up for the Nittany Lions, who are making their first appearance of the spring campaign. Chief among them is Jackie Rogowicz, the freshman from Pennsbury whose runnerup finish to DiLisio at the 2013 state tourney was one of many highlights from an outstanding scholastic career. Rogowicz led the way for Penn State Friday with an even-par 72, a shot back of DiLisio in a tie for 13th.
Ariana Coyle Diez, a sophomore from Ireland, checked in with a 75 for Penn State. Lauren Waller, the freshman from Canon McMillan who lost to Radnor’s Brynn Walker in a playoff for the 2014 PIAA Class AAA title, is in the large group tied for 49th with a 77. Teammate Grace Chung, a senior from Canada, also had a 77.
Cara Basso, who won the PIAA Class AA title as a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy in 2012, is another of Denise St. Pierre’s blue-chip freshmen from the Pennsylvania high school ranks. She had an opening-round 81 and is in a tie for 76th.
Notre Dame brought along three players who are competing as individuals, including sophomore Alison Snakard, a teammate of DiLisio’s at Mount St. Joseph. Snakard posted a career-best 80 and is tied for 70th. Janie Fineis, a junior from East Lansing, Mich., was a shot better than Snakard in a tie for 66th with a 79. And Kari Bellville, a sophomore from Granger, Ind., is tied for 89th after an 84.