By Lindsay Gaesser, SDA Media Relations
TULSA, Okla.—Led by junior Noemi Jimenez, the fifth-ranked Arizona State women’s golf team is tied for third with top-ranked Southern California and No. 3 Duke after the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Championships. The Sun Devils, who teed off on the 10th hole this afternoon, shot a 13-over 293 at the par-70, 6,194-yard Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
With wind gusts of up to 33 miles per hour, the 24-team field struggled with high scores throughout the entire day. Seventh-ranked Oklahoma leads the pack after the first round with an 8-over 288, which is three strokes ahead of the rest of the field. On the individual leader board, there is a three-way tie for first. Southern California’s Doris Chen, Denver’s Tonje Daffinrud, and Stanford’s Lauren Kim all vie for the top spot with a 3-under 67.
“Playing in the wind can wear on you,” said ASU head coach Melissa Luellen of the team’s performance today. “You have to stay in control, and I think some of the girls stated it perfectly. You just have to hit the shot and feel committed that the wind isn’t even there. That takes a lot of mental discipline to do that—to figure out your shots and what you think the wind is going to do.
What makes it even more challenging is the gustiness,” added Luellen. “You try and play the conditions the best you can. Noemi [Jimenez] has a ball marker that says ‘I Love Golf,’ and you have to remember that you do love golf when you play in tough conditions like this. When you keep the right attitude, good stuff comes out of it.”
Jimenez, ranked third in the nation according to Golfstat, breezed through the back nine with three birdies. After bogeying holes one and nine, Jimenez finished the day tied for fifth with a 1-under 69.
“The course was really hard today,” said Jimenez. “It’s a great course no matter the conditions, but because of the wind it made it even harder. I think we had a very good fight out there, and we are in really good position for the second round. It’s a four day tournament and we just have to keep it going.”
Despite trading birdies and bogeys throughout the day, junior Emilie Alonso played a solid round of golf. Alonso, in the No. 5 spot of the Sun Devil lineup, finished with a 4-over 74, tying her for 28th overall.
Freshman Monica Vaughn and senior Laura Blanco each carded three birdies in Tuesday’s round. After a rough bout of bogeys and double bogeys down the home stretch on the front nine, Vaughn closed the round with a birdie on the ninth hole. Vaughn and Blanco are tied for 41st place with a 5-over 75.
Senior Justine Lee struggled to find her rhythm in the first round. After shooting 4-over par on the back nine, Lee was plagued by bogeys and double bogeys on the front nine. Through 18 holes, Lee is tied for 116th with a 12-over 82.
“I think we are all exhausted,” said Luellen. “It’s just a constant fight. I thought the par 3s were extraordinarily difficult. Most of them play into the wind and that’s what I think creates the biggest challenge.
The team played solid on the back nine, which was our front nine,” added Luellen. “Then we came into the front nine, which I think is the harder of the two nines. Our goal for the first day was to be in the hunt and we’re in the hunt.”
The Sun Devils tee off tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. CT on hole one with Duke and Mississippi State. Pairings will be seeded by score for rounds three and four.
Live scoring for all four rounds of the tournament is available at www.golfstat.com. For the third and fourth rounds of the tournament, the NCAA will provide a live webcast from holes 16, 17, and 18, with highlights and a recap provided once play has concluded each day.
|T5||Noemi Jimenez (1)||69||-1|
|T28||Emilie Alonso (5)||74||+4|
|T41||Monica Vaughn (2)||75||+5|
|T41||Laura Blanco (4)||75||+5|
|T116||Justine Lee (3)||82||+12|
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On the Sun Devils...
It is a special week for Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen. The 12-year Sun Devil coach is not just leading her fifth-ranked team in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships at Tulsa Country Club, but also returns for a homecoming — along with a class that has overcome challenges. [Read More]