May 9, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - The top-seeded Alabama women's golf team performed exactly how you would expect the nation's second-ranked team to perform in the opening round of the NCAA East Regional at the Auburn University Club on Thursday.
The Crimson Tide fired the program's lowest round in NCAA tournament play with an 11-under-par 277, which also matches the lowest round of the season and the second-lowest round in school history.
"I had a good feeling about our scoring opportunities on this golf course," Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. "It reminded me a little of the course at the PING/ASU Invitational, and we played well there. We have a lot of girls that have been in this type of situation before, whether it was in junior golf, the U.S. Open's or national championships.
"They know what the standards are that we want to play to and, that is to focus on every shot. It is not winning regionals, it is about scoring to the best of their ability, and they did a great job using their capabilities today."
Alabama has a six-shot lead over Arkansas and Tulane, who both carded rounds of 5-under 283. UCLA is in fourth place at even-par 288 with Texas in fifth at 289. North Carolina and Oklahoma State are tied for sixth at 2-over-290 with Northwestern and Notre Dame tied for eighth at 4-over 292.
The top eight finishers at the NCAA East Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at the University of Georgia Golf Course on May 21-24 in Athens, Ga.
True freshman Emma Talley fired the lowest round of her young Alabama career with a 5-under 67 and is tied for the tournament lead with Arkansas' Emma Lavy and Tennessee's Erica Popson. The Princeton, Ky., native posted a bogey-free round that included a birdie on the seventh, an eagle on the par-5 12th and closing birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.
"It's very important, I think," Talley said about getting off to a good start in the first round. "I actually shot just 1-under on the front, but missed lots of putts, but I knew there were a lot more birdie opportunities out there. I just had to keep going. The course is in awesome shape, and I started out with a few looks at a birdie, so I knew if I could just keep doing that, there were more birdies out there."
SEC Player of the Year Stephanie Meadow also carded a bogey-free round with a 4-under 68 that saw her make birdie on the first, 10th, 12th and 16th holes. She is tied for fourth place, one shot off the lead heading into Friday's second round.
The Crimson Tide also got a sub-par round from junior Hannah Collier, who shot 2-under 70 with four birdies and two bogeys. She is tied for ninth, three shots off the lead. Senior Jennifer Kirby finished her round strong with three birdies in the final six holes to offset a triple bogey on the 11th for an even-par 72 and is tied for 21st. Daniela Lendl's 75 was dropped from the team score on Thursday.
"We have four girls that are All-SEC, the nation's current scoring leader and the SEC Freshman of the Year, so it is not like they haven't been here before," Potter said. "They are very capable of shooting these types of scores day in and day out. What I'm most proud of is their mental capacity to just go out here and stay in the present. They just continue to play one shot at a time - that is all we talk about. They did a great job of that today, and never let the situation affect them."
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