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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Furman, UCLA off to fast starts in Puerto Rico, California

   Big Ten stalwarts Purdue and Ohio State found warmer climes to host a couple of big tournaments that kicked off the spring portion of the NCAA Division I women’s golf schedule Sunday.
Purdue is playing the host for the 15th annual Lady Puerto Rico Classic at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico and Furman, ranked 18th in the latest Golfstat rankings, grabbed the lead after the opening round with a solid 2-over 290.
   The Paladins were led by Haylee Harford, a sophomore from Leavittsburg, Ohio who earned a share of first place in the individual standings with a 2-under 70 over the 6,164-yard, par-72 Rio Mar layout. Baylor’s Maria Besga, a sophomore from Colombia, matched Harford’s 70 to get a share of the top spot.
   Furman also got a 1-under 71 from Taylor Totland, a senior from Tinton Falls, N.J. who is tied for third, a 2-over 74 from Natalie Srinivasan, a freshman from Spartanburg, S.C. who is tied for 25th, and a 3-over 75 from Alice Chen, a junior from Princeton, N.J. who is tied for 29th.
   No. 38 Texas Tech is two shots back of Furman in second place at 4-over 292, No. 15 Kent State is third at 5-over 292 and No. 4 Georgia and No. 34 Texas Christian are tied for fourth at 6-over 294. Besga and No. 21 Baylor are tied for sixth at 10-over 298.
   It was a rough start to the spring campaign for the Boilermakers, ranked No. 12. Purdue is tied for 13th after an opening-round 308, 20-over par. Ida Ayu Indira Melati Putri, a sophomore from Bali, and Covadonga Sanjuan, a sophomore from Spain, led the way for Purdue, each carding a 76 that has them tied for 35th.
   Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru, had a 77 and is tied for 46th and Marta Martin, a junior from Spain, added a 79 and is tied for 64th. Reigning Big Ten champion August Kim, a senior from St. Augustine, Fla. had an 80 and her score didn’t count. Don’t be surprised if Kim, who teed it up in LPGA Qualifying School’s Final Stage in December, improves on that number.
   Meanwhile in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., Ohio State was playing host to the 22nd annual Northrop Grumann Regional Challenge at the Palos Verdes Golf Club.
   No. 7 UCLA might have lost Bronte Law to the professional ranks since the fall campaign, but the Bruins just reloaded. Led by Lilia Vu, a sophomore from Fountain Valley, Calif., and Mariel Galdiano, a freshman from Pearl City, Hawaii, both of whom are tied for third in the individual standings, each carding a 2-under 69 over the 6,017-yard, par-71 Palos Verdes layout, UCLA posted a 4-under 280 total to take a five-shot lead over cross-town rival Southern California, which is ranked No. 2 by Golfstat.
   Galdiano was a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team that fell to Great Britain & Ireland at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club outside of Dublin. I got a chance to watch Galdiano fire a 6-under 65 at Rolling Green Golf Club last summer that gave her medalist honors in qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. The girl can play.
   UCLA also got a 1-under 70 from Clare Legaspi, a freshman from the Philippines who is tied for seventh in the individual chase.
   Southern Cal was led by Robynn Ree, a sophomore from Redondo Beach, Calif. who got a share of first place in the individual standings with a 3-under 68.
   Ree shared the top spot with Leona Maguire, a junior at Duke from Ireland who is the No. 1 player in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. Maguire was a member of the winning GB&I Curtis Cup team on her home soil.
   Maguire helped the No. 22 Blue Devils to third place in the team standings at 3-over 287. No. 6 Florida and No. 46 UNLV are tied for fourth at 6-over 290. No. 14 Arizona State and No. 5 Arizona are tied for sixth at 9-over 293 and No. 8 Alabama is alone in eighth place at 12-over 296. The host Buckeyes, the reigning Big Ten co-champion ranked 24th, are alone in 12th place after an opening-round 299.
   Duke also had a pretty strong entry in reigning NCAA individual champion Virginia Elena Carta, a sophomore from Italy who took South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong to the 36th hole of the U.S. Women’s Amateur before falling, 1-up. Carta is tied for 20th after opening with a 2-over 73.
   Florida and Tennessee brought along a couple of seniors to compete as individuals and all the Gators’ Kelly Grassel of Chesterton, Ind. and the Volunteers’ Emmie Pietila of Brighton, Mich. did was each fire 2-under 69s and are tied for third with UCLA’s Vu and Galdiano.
   Both the Lady Puerto Rico Classic and the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge continue Monday with the second round followed by the final round Tuesday.

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