With Northwestern vacating the crown it had won four straight years, the Hurricane Invitational teed off Monday at the Biltmore, a classic Donald Ross design in Coral Gables, Fla.
Northwestern, which was the runnerup to Arizona State with a loss in the NCAA Championship’s Final Match last spring at Rich Harvest Farms, opted to tee it up against an elite field in the Darius Rucker Invitational in Hilton Head Island, S.C. and finished a solid fifth. I also did day-by-day posts on the Darius Rucker, which wrapped up Sunday, if you want some tournament details.
Oklahoma, the highest-ranked team in the field for the Hurricane at No. 16 in the latest Golfstat rankings, grabbed a three-shot lead over host Miami, ranked 24th. The Sooners were the only team to post an under-par team score with a 3-under-par 285 over the 6,150-yard, par-72 Biltmore layout.
Miami, led by individual co-leader Renate Grimstad, a sophomore from Norway, matched par at 288.
No. 64 Coastal Carolina is in third place at 4-over 292, No. 45 Virginia Tech is fourth at 7-over 295, No. 60 Maryland is fifth at 9-over 297 and Barry, the No. 5 Division II team in the country, is sixth at 11-over 299.
Denise St. Pierre’s No. 58 Penn State team is another shot behind Barry in seventh in the 13-team field at 12-over 300.
Oklahoma, out of the tough Big 12, was led by Rylee Pedigo, a senior from Fort Worth, Texas who fired a 3-under 69 and is tied for third in the individual standings, a shot behind the co-leaders Grimstad and Barry’s Tilda Larsson, a junior from Sweden. Grimstad and Larsson each carded a 4-under 68 over the Biltmore layout.
Pedigo’s teammate, Julienne Soo, a junior from Australia, is also in the top five as she carded a 2-under 70 to get a share of fifth place.
Also for the Sooners, Kaitlin Milligan, a freshman – there are so many good freshmen playing women’s college golf this spring – from Norman, Okla., is tied for eighth after matching par with a 72. Hannah Wood, a senior from Centennial, Colo., was the final counter for the Sooners with a 2-over 74 that left her in a group tied for 20th.
Rounding out the Oklahoma lineup was Ana Ruiz, a senior from Mexico who is tied for 37th after posting a 4-over 76.
Joining Oklahoma’s Pedigo at 3-under 69 in the tie for third is Maryland’s Virunpat Olankitkunchai, a freshman from Thailand. Joining Oklahoma’s Soo at 2-under 70 in the tie for fifth is Kentucky’s Claire Carlin, a junior from Keller, Texas. Unfortunately for the Wildcats’ team hopes, Carlin is competing as an individual.
Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Bose, a junior from Norfolk, Va., is alone in seventh place with a 1-under 71.
Penn State was coming off a somewhat disappointing spring opener when the Nittany Lions finished tied for ninth in the UCF Challenge at Eaglecreek Golf Club in Orlando, which was won by Miami last month. Penn State will need some strong showings this spring to move up in the rankings if it hopes to earn a bid to an NCAA regional.
The Nittany Lions were led Monday by junior Cara Basso, the 2012 PIAA Class AA champion as a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy. Basso, winner of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Match-Play Championship last summer, is in the group tied for 20th after carding a 2-over 74.
A couple of former Bucks County scholastic standouts, junior Jackie Rogowicz, a two-time PIAA runnerup at Pennsbury, and sophomore Madelein Herr, the District One Class AAA champion as a senior at Council Rock North, are among the group tied for 28th after each posted a 3-over 75.
Junior Lauren Waller, the 2014 PIAA Class AAA runnerup as a senior at Canon-McMillan, is another shot back in a tie for 37th after a 4-over 76.
They have been a solid top four for St. Pierre for two seasons, Basso, Rogowicz, Herr and Waller, and are so close to taking the program up a notch.
Rounding out the lineup was sophomore Megan McLean, a Jersey girl out of Voorhees High who is tied for 67th after an 81.
Ariana Coyle Diaz, a senior from Ireland, is competing as an individual and fired a 5-over 77 to join the group tied for 44th.