The Georgia women’s golf team turned in a 5-over-par 293 in Monday’s opening round of the NCAA Athens Regional at the UGA Golf Course and find themselves tied in third-place with Northwestern. That puts the Lady Bulldogs nine shots back of first-place Michigan State.
“You’ll take third after day one,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “How we got there is interesting. We’re right in position.”
The top-six teams and the top-three individual finishers who are not among those teams will advance from the Regional to the NCAA Championships on May 19-24.
Jillian Hollis paced Georgia on Monday with a 2-under 70, while the Bulldogs remaining counting scores came in a 73 from Bailey Tardy, a 74 from Rinko Mitsunaga and a 75, the tally signed for by both Harang Lee and Mary Ellen Shuman.
The Bulldogs started relatively slow by their standards. Georgia did not make a birdie until Hollis did so at No. 5. At that point, the Bulldogs were 5-over as a team. Georgia stayed steadily between 4-, 5- and 6-over for most of the rest of the day.
“We just needed to get started,” Brewer said. “We had a couple of weeks off and Finals and graduation. There are a lot of distractions when you host a NCAA Regional. Now it feels like a tournament. We ended the day on a good note, but we have to play well again tomorrow. We want the last tee times on the last day. That would mean we’d have a chance to win our second straight Regional.”
Hollis’ initial birdie at No. 5 followed a bogey at No. 3. She turned at even after a bogey at No. 8 and a birdie at No. 9. Hollis moved into red numbers with a birdie at No. 10 and notched seven consecutive pars before closing with a birdie at No. 18.
“I have a lot of friends out here. I love the Alabama team,” Hollis said. “I’m good friends with all of them. It’s nice that we got to play with them. It’s a nice six-hour walk, that’s how I look at it, to be able to play with my friends.”
Hollis has now recorded nine consecutive par or better rounds dating back to the Darius Rucker Collegiate the first week in March.
“As a coach, it’s great to see a player rewarded for their hard work,” Brewer said. “Jillian has worked as hard maybe as much as anyone in all my time coaching. For her to be rewarded and shoot the scores she’s posting is great to see. We needed that today. We needed someone to go out and post a low number for us. Now her teammates can go gun for her.”
Georgia played the finishing hole extremely well, with four of five Bulldogs completing their days with birdies.
“It’s kind of what this team does. It finishes strong. It battles,” Brewer said. “We were probably a little excited this morning. We’ve played big-time golf so I’m not going to say we were nervous. We just had to settle down and play our normal game.”
Michigan State grabbed the early lead with a 4-under 284. No. 3 Alabama is second at 289, followed by the Bulldogs and No. 11 Northwestern at 293, No. 19 Baylor at 296, Tennessee at 297, No. 14 Arizona at 298, Princeton at 300 and Augusta and North Carolina both at 302.
Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho is the individual leader at 4-under 68, a stroke better than the trio of Clemson’s Alice Hewson, Michigan State’s Sarah Burnham and Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson.
For Georgia, Hollis is tied for fifth, Tardy is tied for 16th, Mitsunaga is tied for 24th and Lee and Shuman are tied for 38th.
The tournament will continue through Wednesday, with tee times beginning at 7:30 a.m. on both No. 1 and No. 2. For Tuesday’s round two, Georgia will be paired with the Spartans and Crimson Tide and tee off between 9:12-9:48 from No. 1. For a complete listing of the tee times, CLICK HERE.
And for live scoring, which is updated hole-by-hole, CLICK HERE.
NCAA Athens Regional
University of Georgia Golf Course
Par 72; 6344 Yards
Monday’s First-Round Results
Michigan State 284
North Carolina 302
North Florida 305
Wake Forest 308
Kansas State 310
Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest 68
Alice Hewson, Clemson 69
Sarah Burnham, Michigan St. 69
Lauren Stephenson, Alabama 69
Jillian Hollis, Georgia 70
Katie Sharp, Michigan St. 70
Cheyenne Knight, Alabama 71
Leslie Cloots, N. Carolina 71
Krystal Quihuis, Arizona 71
Paz Marfa, Michigan St. 71
ADDITONAL GEORGIA SCORES
T16. Bailey Tardy, Georgia 73
T24. Rinko Mitsunaga, Georgia 74
T38. Harang Lee, Georgia 76
T38. Mary Ellen Shuman, Georgia 76