TULSA, Okla. – The California women’s golf team had a successful opening round and sit just eight strokes off the lead at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships that are being held at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
The Golden Bears are sixth on the team standings at the par-70 course after scoring a 296 (+16) in the first of four rounds. Leading the way for the Golden Bears is senior Nicola Rössler – the only person on the California roster with NCAA Championship experience – who sits eighth individually after carding an even 70 Tuesday.
Oklahoma leads the field with a 288 (+8) with UCLA (291, +11), Duke (293, +13), USC (293, +13) and Arizona State (293, +13) rounding out the top five. Seven Pac-12 teams are in the top 10 of the 24-team field.
“Today was solid,” California head coach Nancy McDaniel said. “It was pretty windy – probably 30 miles an hour – hence the high scores. That 70 from Nico was notable, and a 73 and 74 from Hannah (Suh) and Carly (Childs) were really solid. The harder side was the front nine, and we played the front nine second today, so it was great that they hung in there as it got tougher. I feel like their navigating skills on this course and in the wind was a big part of it.”
Rössler, who began her day on the 10th hole, carded her 70 Tuesday by hitting birdies on the par-4 5th and the par-4 13th along with consecutive bogeys on the 18th and 1st holes . Rössler had her eighth round this season of par or better and first since hitting an even 72 in the opening round of the Pac-12 Championships earlier this month.
“Actually it was really fun,” Rössler said of playing in the windy conditions Tuesday. “We had regionals last week at Oklahoma State and it was super windy there, so it wasn’t the first time for us playing in the wind. I think that’s why it made it a little bit easier (for us). But, it was really tough. You had to make smart decisions, think about where you wanted your miss to be and just stay focused on every shot.”
Sophomore Hannah Suh is 22nd with a 73 (+3) in her first appearance at the national championship while classmate Carly Childs is tied for 28th at 74 (+4). Suh hit two birdies on the day and sat just 1-over through 14 holes before bogeys on the par-3 6th and 9th. Childs hit for par on 14 of 18 holes on the day to continue the consistent play she has exhibited this spring.
Another pair of nationals newcomers in freshman Lucia Gutierrez and junior Jo Ee Kok scored a 79 and 82, respectively. Like Suh, Gutierrez also began the day with a birdie on the 10th hole and added another on the par-5 16th. She finished 9-over due to a trio of par-4 double-bogeys, moving her from a potential 73 to 79.
“We’re really proud of these guys for their effort today and staying in it,” McDaniel said. “They’re excited to get back out there and make up for some of the things they left out. I know Lucia and Jo Ee are feeling that way and want to brush off a few strokes, which I know they can. The others are just playing well. We can get another solid day in.”
California tees off beginning at 8:25 a.m. (CT) in Wednesday’s second round on the first hole. The Bears will be paired with NC State and Oklahoma.
“It’s nice that we had a solid round today,” McDaniel said. “It’s a long week and it’s something to build on going into tomorrow. It’s also nice that we played the afternoon and are going right back out after not even 12 hours. We don’t have time to think and we’re playing well. We just have to keep the smart playing going, and they’ll be in shape.”
COURSE: Tulsa Country Club (6,194 yards, par-70) – Tulsa, Okla.