The women’s NCAA regionals teed off Thursday at four sites around the country with the wind playing some havoc in Alabama and Louisiana, but it’s golf and funny things are going to happen.
We’ll start at the Shoal Creek Club in Shoal Creek, Ala., mostly because two teams I’ve followed particularly closely all season, Notre Dame and Purdue are in the field there. And both struggled, although both can take comfort in the fact that Alabama, No. 1 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had its problems as well.
Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, ranked eighth, grabbed the team lead with an 8-over 296 total, three shots better than 22nd-ranked Florida State at 299. They were the only two teams to break 300 in windswept conditions over the 6,470-yard, par-72 Shoal Creek layout.
Notre Dame, ranked 40th, is in 10th place with a 309 total. The Irish were led by Maddie Rose Hamilton, a freshman from Louisville, Ky. who is tied for seventh after carding a 2-over 74.
Rounding out the Notre Dame contingent were: Emma Albrecht, a freshman from Ormond Beach, Fla. who is tied for 24th with a 76; Jordan Ferreira, a junior from University Place, Wash. who is tied for 55th with a 79; freshman Isabella DiLisio, the 2013 PIAA Class AAA champion at Mount St. Joseph who is tied for 68th with an 80; and Talia Campbell, a senior from Dallas who is tied for 74th with an 81.
DiLisio and Campbell saw promising rounds derailed with some tough holes on the back nine.
Purdue, ranked 36th, also struggled at Shoal Creek, sitting at 15th in the 18-team field following a 313 total.
Recently crowned Big Ten individual champion August Kim, a junior from St. Augustine, Fla., carded a 2-over 74 to join the group tied for seventh in the individual chase.
The rest of the Purdue contingent included: Covadonga SanJuan, a freshman from Spain who is tied for 33rd with a 77; Marta Martin, a sophomore from Spain and Anna Appert Lund, a senior from Sweden, both of whom are tied for 74th with 81s; and Linn Andersson, a sophomore from Sweden who is tied for 90th following an 86.
With the exception of SanJuan, the rest of the Purdue quintet got through the regional a year ago, so don’t be surprised to see the Boilermakers bounce back.
Another candidate to rebound from a slow start would be the top-ranked Crimson Tide, who are seventh at 306. They were led by their senior stalwart, Emma Talley, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and reigning NCAA individual champion who is tied for 15th following a 3-over 75.
Leading the way in the individual chase is Vanderbilt’s Jennifer Hahn, a senior from Henderson, Nev. who was the only player in the field to better par with a 2-under 70.
Tied for second at even-par 72 are Northwestern’s Kacie Komoto, a junior from Honolulu, Hawaii, and Oklahoma State’s Maddie McCray, a sophomore from Wylie, Texas.
Komoto’s round paced a solid opening salvo for the Wildcats in the team chase. Florida State, sitting in second place, was led by Kim Metraux, a sophomore from Switzerland who is tied for fourth following a 1-over 73.
The top six teams and the top three individuals not aligned with an advancing team make it to the NCAA Finals May 20 to 25 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
The wind was tricky at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La., but Washington, ranked 13th, overcame the conditions to take the opening-round lead with a 2-under 286. South Carolina, ranked 24th, is in second at 2-over 290.
Washington was led by Ying Luo, a senior from China who grabbed a share of the individual lead with a 3-under 69 over the 6,285-uyard, par-72 University Club layout. She was joined at that figure by Houston’s Leonie Harm, a freshman from Germany.
The top seed in Baton Rouge, No. 4 Duke, struggled in with a 298 total that left the Blue Devils tied for seventh. They were led by Leona Maguire, a sophomore from Ireland and the top-ranked amateur player in the world, and Sandy Choi, a junior from South Korea, both of whom carded 1-over 73s and are tied for 15th.
Georgia, ranked sixth, and No. 11 Arizona, are tied for the lead at the Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas, each carding a 3-under 285.
The Bulldogs were led by Bailey Tardy, a freshman from Peachtree Corners, Ga. and a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team who is tied for third following a 3-under 69 over the 6,373-yard, par-72 Traditions layout. Arizona was led by Gigi Stoll, a freshman from Tigard, Ore. who matched Tardy’s 69.
The leader in the individual chase is Gonzaga’s Bianca Pagdanganan, a freshman from the Philippines who carded a 5-under 67.
The top seed at the Traditions, No. 3 UCLA, is in fifth place at 1-over 289.
Among the players joining Tardy and Stoll at 3-under 69 is none other than William & Mary’s Alessandra Liu, the former Lower Merion standout who is competing as an individual at the Traditions.
Form held true at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif. as top-seeded and second-ranked Southern California grabbed the lead with a 3-over 287 total.
But the Trojans have some talented teams right on their heels, including ACC champion Virginia, ranked 15th, in second place a shot back at 288, Pac-12 rival and defending NCAA champion Stanford, ranked 12th, in third at 289, Texas Tech, ranked 26th, and Michigan State, ranked 42nd, tied for fourth at 291, and Colorado, ranked 34th, and Wake Forest, ranked 39th, tied for sixth at 295.
USC was led by Robynn Ree, a freshman from Redondo Beach, Calif., and Tiffany Chan, a junior from Hong Kong, both of whom are part of a big logjam tied for seventh at even-par 71 over the 6,269-yard, par-71 Stanford layout.
Colorado State’s Katrina Prendergast, a freshman from Sparks, Nev., claimed the individual lead with a 3-under 68.
Stanford’s senior leader Mariah Stackhouse, out of Riverdale, Ga. and California-Riverside’s Jakeishya Le, a freshman from Santa Ana, Calif. are tied for second at 2-under 69.
Wake Forest, coming off an impressive runnerup finish at the ACC Championship, was led by Jennifer Kupcho, a freshman from Littleton, Calif. who was also part of that eight-way tie for seventh at even-par 71.
Sophomore Erica Herr, a two-time PIAA champion at Council Rock North, is tied for 52nd following a 5-over 76 for the Demon Deacons.