STILLWATER, Okla. – On a windy day with light precipitation at the Karsten Creek Golf Club, the California women’s golf team sent a message to the NCAA Central Regional field that the Golden Bears have every intent on advancing to their second NCAA Championship round in the last four years after finishing the first round of the regional Thursday tied for first place as a team with a 295 (+7).
The top eight teams at the conclusion of three rounds at the Oklahoma State-hosted regional will advance to compete in the NCAA Championships in two weeks in Tulsa, Okla. Through 18 holes, the Golden Bears sit seven strokes above the cut and are tied for first alongside Alabama.
After California and Alabama are Florida and Kent State in a tie for third place at 296 (+8). Oklahoma State rounds out the top five teams at 298 (+10).
“I’m really encouraged by today’s round because it’s only our second round on this course (after practicing here Wednesday),” California head coach Nancy McDaniel said. “You have to pay attention to shoot a score in the 290’s. Whatever the weather ends up doing, this team is committed to paying attention coming into day two and day three. They’re really committed. I’m confident going in to day two that we have a good opportunity of another solid day.”
Sophomore Hannah Suh had one of the strongest starts of all individuals in the tournament by sitting at 3-under through nine holes. Bolstered by consecutive birdies to start her day on the 10th and 11th, Suh finished the back nine with two more birdies on the 15th and 18th alongside a 13th-hole bogey. On the front nine, Suh held consistent to end her day even at 72, tied for sixth.
Senior Nicola Rössler and sophomore Carly Childs both shot 2-over 74’s Thursday to sit tied for 17th on the individual leaderboard. Rössler hit identical 1-over 36’s on both the front and the back nine while Childs remained steady throughout the day by hitting par on 14 of 18 holes.
“Carly fought really hard today and came in with a 2-over,” McDaniel said. “Most of her scoring took place from 50 yards and in. That always shows a ton of heart and no give. She won’t’ give up on anything. Her attitude really carries the team. It was easier for a few players today who hit more greens, but having Carly hang around and let people know you can hit it up and down from everywhere, it makes for a good combination in this team. We have five players that can score. That definitely is a plus for us.”
Freshman Lucia Gutierrez follows Rössler and Childs with a 3-over 75 to sit tied for 25th. Gutierrez also hit par on 14 of 18 holes. Starting on the par-4 10th, she hit even par on each of her first nine holes before carding a birdie on the par-5 1st to sit at 1-under through 10. Her round ended with bogeys on the third and fifth, followed by a double-bogey on the par-4 8th.
Junior Jo Ee Kok saw two double-bogeys push her score up, but the first-time NCAA participant currently sits tied for 102nd on the individual scoreboard with an 82 (+10).
“The weather was good today. It was a little windy and we played through rain the first six holes or so, but we got off to a good start. They just held it together. We didn’t play that great on the front nine, we lost a few shots, but that was mainly due to wind. Overall it was a very solid day one. Being in the mid 290’s is a good score out here at Oklahoma State’s course.”
The Bears tee off on the 10th hole Friday beginning at 11:50 a.m. Cal is grouped with Mississippi State and Miami in the second round and will play in the order of Suh, Rössler, Childs, Gutierrez and Kok.
COURSE: Karsten Creek Golf Club (7,449 yards, par-72) – Stillwater, Okla.