Paced by second- and third-place individual efforts by Harang Lee and Bailey Tardy, respectively, the No. 6-ranked Georgia women’s golf team finished second in Friday’s stroke play qualifying round of the 44th annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
No. 3 UCLA shot 2-under 286 to grab the No. 1 seed in the “Red” bracket. The Bulldogs posted an even-par 288. Rounding out that eight-team bracket is No. 5 Alabama, No. 2 Southern Cal, No. 4 Northwestern, Denver, Purdue and No. 14 Kent State. No. 1 Duke, No. 7 Arkansas, Auburn and Oregon State finished ninth-12th and will compete in the round-robin “Black” bracket.
Lee shot 3-under 69, one shot off the pace of medalist Louise Ridderstrom of UCLA. Tardy carded a 2-under 70. The Bulldogs also counted a 74 from Jillian Hollis and a 75 from Rinko Mitsunaga, while dropping Isabella Skinner’s 76.
Overall, Hollis tied for 22nd; Mitsunaga tied for 29th and Skinner tied 38th.
“It was a very solid first day,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “You just don’t know. It’s 18 holes that determine if you get to play for the championship. It’s a little stressful, but they handled like they’ve handled everything all year with great maturity. I’m proud of them.”
The Bulldogs will face Purdue in Saturday’s quarterfinal round of match play, teeing off from No. 1 between 8:40-9:12 am at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
“It shouldn’t change, but it does because now you’re playing one-on-one,” Brewer said. “You’ve got to manage that part of it. We’ve got a huge match against Purdue. (Coach) Devon (Brouse) always does a great job of getting his team ready. We have to come ready to go in the morning.”
Lee rode the momentum of an up-and-down at No. 11 to play the back side at 4-under. She teed off from No. 2 and was 1-over through her first 11 holes before birdies at No. 13, No. 15, No. 17 and No. 18.
“I was confident all day and hitting the ball well and waiting for a putt to go in,” Lee said. “I made a good up-and-down and after that everything was falling. It wasn’t a huge up-and-down, but it was the putt I needed to get going.”
Tardy was 3-under through her first 13 holes before posting bogey-birdie-bogey at Nos. 14-16 and finishing her day with a pair of pars.
“I hit the ball pretty solid today,” Tardy said. “I had some mishits on the back nine that caused me to bogey a couple of times.”
After a forecast of rain into the late morning and beginning again the afternoon, the clouds parted and the tournament began with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. The 12 teams completed their loops by 2 p.m.
“You’ve got to wonder if Coach Murphey didn’t take care of us a little bit,” Brewer said. “You look up there and wonder if she helped clear it up perfectly. We did get lucky.”
“The weather didn’t really affect anything,” Tardy said. “It wasn’t raining while we were out on the course. I take big divots and the ground was really soft so I tried to impact the ball more. The approach shots on the greens landed a little softer so you could be a little more aggressive, knowing that they weren’t going to bounce and roll off like a normal day in the summer.”
Saturday’s schedule includes two rounds of match play, with an morning wave of matches beginning at 8 a.m. and a second session set to start at approximately 1 p.m. No admission is being charged to watch the tournament.
Live scoring will be available via www.birdiefire.com.
44th Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic
UGA Golf Course
Par 72; 6307 Yards
Southern Cal 292
Kent State 297
Oregon State 311
Louise Ridderstrom, UCLA 68
Harang Lee, Georgia 69
Bailey Tardy, Georgia 70
Michaela Owen, Auburn 71
Emmy Talley, Alabama 71
Lakareber Abe, Alabama 71
Virginia Elena Carta, Duke 71
Kacie Komoto, Northwestern 71
Bethany Wu, UCLA 71
Robynn Ree, Southern Cal 71
Additional Georgia Scores
T22. Jillian Hollis, Georgia 74
T29. Rinko Mitsunaga, Georgia 75
T38. Isabella Skinner, Georgia 76