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.