Women’s golf: UVA in 13th place after opening round at NCAA Championships

UVA women’s golfThe UVA women’s golf team is tied for 13th place after the opening round of play at the NCAA Championships at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.

The 17th-ranked Cavaliers shot 22-over 314 while playing in the morning wave on the first day of competition. Second-ranked Texas and host school Arkansas lead the 24-team field at 10-over 302.

Sophomore Beth Lillie (Fullerton, Calif.) and freshman Riley Smyth (Cary, N.C.) led the Cavaliers during the first round. They both shot 4-over 77 on the par-73 course and are tied for 27th place.

Senior Katharine Patrick (Houston, Texas) is in 53rd place at 6-over 79. Senior Anna Redding (Concord, N.C.) rounded out UVA’s scoring players with an 8-over 81. She is in 81st place. Senior Morgan Gonzales (Chandler, Ariz.) is in 112th place after finishing with an 85.

“Going out there as one of the first teams on the course, we had no idea what a good score was going to be,” said UVA coach Ria Scott. “These are the days you just need to keep grinding until the very end. This week will be a real test of will and patience for our players and I hope they can come out of this day a little stronger for tomorrow. This tournament is a marathon, not a sprint. You just need to be patient and see how things will unfold.”

The Cavaliers will tee off at starting at 11:55 a.m. for Saturday’s second round and will be paired with Washington and Illinois. Those teams will start their round from the 10th tee. There is a threat of severe weather in the Fayetteville area on Saturday afternoon.

“We start on number 10 tomorrow and holes nine through 14 are really challenging and the scores reflected that today,” Scott said. “We need to minimize mistakes on those holes and just get through them and then try and take advantage of the scoring opportunities the course presents.”

Following Sunday’s third round, the field will be cut to 15 teams who will play a fourth round on Monday. After 72 holes, the top eight teams will move on to the match play portion of the tournament to decide the national champion. The NCAA individual champion will be crowned following Monday’s stroke play.

Virginia is making its 11th NCAA Championships appearance in the 16-year history of the program. UVA’s best finish at the NCAAs were back-to-back fourth-place showings in 2011 and 2012. In 2016, the Cavaliers finished fifth in stroke play and lost to Washington 3-1-1 in the quarterfinals of match play. UVA was 22nd at last year’s championship.

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