The No. 18-ranked Georgia women’s golf team fired a 1-over 289 in the opening round of the NCAA Columbus Regional on Monday. The Bulldogs are in fourth place on the team leaderboard at the OSU Scarlet Course, just three strokes off the pace set by Oklahoma.
“It’s the round you want to start an NCAA Regional,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We came up here with the mindset of wanting win and not to just advance, and we’ve gotten ourselves in that position. We’ve been a confident group since we found out where we were going. We’ve just been waiting to hear our names called on the first hole for the first round. It doesn’t surprise me we played well today.”
The Regional field features 18 teams competing for six spots in the NCAA Championships, which begin next Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Georgia is the No. 5 seed in the field in Columbus.
Oklahoma carded a 2-under 286 to grab the early team lead. No. 2 Duke is second at 287 followed by Michigan at 288, the Bulldogs at 289, No. 7 Arizona State and No. 15 Kent State both at 291. There are eight teams within 10 strokes of the current cut line for the NCAAs – No. 11 Virginia and Washington both at 296; No. 24 Vanderbilt and Illinois tied at 297; Kentucky, Coastal Carolina and Campbell knotted at 298; and Clemson at 299.
Junior Jenny Bae and sophomore Candice Mahé led the Bulldogs with a pair of 1-under 71s. Freshman Isabella Holpfer carded an even-par 72, and junior Jo Hua Hung posted a 75 to round out Georgia’s counting scores.
“This time of year, it’s very much a team game,” Brewer said. ‘You need all five golfers up and down the lineup to perform. We think, 1-5, we’re as good as anyone in the country. We’ll go out tomorrow and try to get ourselves in position to try and win the final day.”
Georgia teed off from No. 10 on Monday and played the back side of the course first. The Bulldogs were steady over their first nine holes and turned at even-par as a team. Mahé gave Georgia a boost with birdies at No. 17 and No. 18. The Bulldogs were 3-over through 16 holes before Bae birdied No. 8 and Holpfer birdied No. 9.
Bae moved to red numbers with a birdie at No. 12 and eventually turned at even. After slipping to 1-over with a bogey at No. 2, she rallied with birdies at No. 4 and No. 8 to record her team-leading 12 par-or-better score this season.
Mahé began her loop with a birdie at No. 10 but immediately gave that stroke back with a bogey at No. 11. Following five pars, she notched consecutive birdies to turn at 2-under. Mahé’s only non-par on the front side was a bogey at No. 6. The 71 represented Mahé career-low score in 28 rounds at Georgia, besting a pair of even-par 72s last spring.
Holpfer started her day with a bogey and finished with a birdie. In between, she mixed together 14 pars with a birdie at No. 1 and a bogey at No. 4.
Michigan’s Hailey Borja is atop the individual leaderboard. She signed for a 3-under 69 on Monday, a shot better than a quintet of golfers at 2-under. For Georgia, Bae and Mahé are tied for seventh, Holpfer is tied for 15th, Hung is tied for 40th and Caterina Don, who shot 76 on Monday, is tied for 53rd.
The Bulldogs’ tally was even more impressive considering Sunday’s practice round was washed out due to rain so Monday was the first time the Bulldogs were able to play the OSU layout.
“When you’re confident and playing well, even if you haven’t seen the golf course, you think you’re going to go out and post a pretty good number,” Brewer said. “That’s exactly what we did today. We’ll make a few tweaks and adjustments for the next two days, but overall we had a very solid day today.”
Play continues through Wednesday. Georgia will be paired with Arizona State and Kent State for Tuesday’s second round. The Bulldogs, Sun Devils and Golden Flashes will tee off from No. 1 in waves between 9:00-9:40 a.m. ET. Live scoring is available via golfstat.com.
NCAA Columbus Regional
OSU Scarlet Course
Par 72, 6335 Yards
Monday’s First-Round Standings
Arizona State 291
Kent State 291
Coastal Carolina 298
New Mexico 310
Youngstown State 322
Hailey Borja, Michigan 69
Caley McGinty, Kent St. 70
Gina Kim, Duke 70
Kaitlin Milligan, Oklahoma 70
Monet Chun, Michigan 70
Jenny Bae, Georgia 71
Candice Mahé, Georgia 71
Linn Grant, Arizona St. 71
Erica Shepherd, Duke 71
Olivia Mehaffey, Arizona St. 71
Virginia Bossi, Virginia 71
Libby Winans, Oklahoma 71
Additional Georgia Scores
T15. Isabella Holpfer 72
T40. Jo Hua Hung 75
T53. Caterina Don 76