Junior August Kim, the Big Ten individual champion out of St. Augustine, Fla., is Purdue’s only representative at the NCAA Championship, so she’s making the most of the opportunity.
Kim fired at 4-under 68 over the 6,468-yard, par-72 Eugene Country Club layout in Eugene, Ore. to get a share of the individual lead as the long, long process of determining the NCAA individual and team champions got under way Friday.
Kim started on the back nine and picked up birdies at 12, 16 and 17. She kept the hot streak going with birdies at one and three before her only bogey of the day at the par-5 fourth hole dropped her back to 4-under.
She was joined at that figure by Arizona’s Haley Moore, a freshman from Escondido, Calif.
They sit atop a tightly-bunched pack as eight players are tied for third at 3-under 68 and 10 more came in at 2-under 70.
Leading that group of eight at 3-under 69 is South Carolina left-hander Katelyn Dambaugh, a junior from Goose Creek, S.C. who is coming off the first tournament victory of her career in the regional at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La.
Also in that group are: Tennessee’s Anna Newell, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla.; Miami’s Dewi Weber, a freshman from the Netherlands; Alabama’s Cheyenne Knight, a freshman from Aledo, Texas; Duke’s Virginia Elena Carta, a freshman from Italy; UCLA’s Louise Ridderstrom, a senior from Sweden; Oklahoma State’s Chih-Min Chen, a freshman from Taiwan; and Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, a freshman from Littleton, Colo.
Chen’s 69 led a solid showing by Oklahoma State, eighth in the latest Golfstat rankings, as the Cowgirls jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a 4-under 284. Like the individual chase, it is a tightly-bunched group in the team standings and some of the top teams struggled mightily on the first day.
For openers, though, Big 12 champion Oklahoma State was rock solid. Kenzie Niesen, a sophomore from New Prague, Minn. who repeated as the Big 12 individual champion earlier this spring, carded a 1-under 71, Maddie McCrary, a sophomore from Wylie, Texas, and Emma Broze, a sophomore from France, each matched par with 72s and Linnea Johansson, a redshirt junior from Sweden, had a 1-over 73.
Ridderstrom helped No. 3 UCLA post a 2-under 286, which has the Bruins in second place, two shots back of Oklahoma State.
Pac-12 entrants Washington, ranked 13th, and Southern California, ranked second, are tied for third at 1-over 289. No. 11 Arizona, another Pac-12 team, is fourth at 3-over 291. Big 10 co-champion Northwestern, ranked seventh, and No. 11 Arkansas are tied for sixth at 4-over 292.
Rounding out the top 10 are three teams tied for eighth at 5-over 293. They are ACC champion Virginia, ranked 15th, Big Ten co-champion Ohio State, ranked 25th, and No. 18 South Carolina.
Some of the teams with work to do are No. 4 Florida, which is tied for 15th at 297, No. 6 Georgia, which is tied for 18th at 298, No. 5 Duke, which is tied for 21st at 299, and No. 1 Alabama, which is 23rd at 300.
After 54 holes, scheduled to be completed Sunday, the competition will be cut to the top 15 teams and nine individuals from non-advancing teams. Monday, when The Golf Channel enters the fray, will include the final 18 holes in the 72-hole individual competition and the top eight teams that will tee it up in match play beginning Tuesday will be decided.