CHAPEL HILL, N.C.- The University of North Carolina women's golf team fired an even-par 288 to tie for second place in the opening round of the Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational Friday at UNC Finley Golf Course. Junior Jackie Chang led the Tar Heels by firing a 2-under-par 70 and is tied for third place in the individual race.
"Our team performed well," North Carolina head coach Jan Mann said. "Overall, I was very pleased with their performance and their patience. I'm looking forward to the next round."
Chang, from Paradise Valley, Ariz., carded five birdies on the day, with just one bogey and one double bogey to finish the day at 2-under in a tie for third place. Junior Casey Grice and sophomore Maia Schechter each scored an even-par 72 in the first round. Grice, from College Station, Texas, was 1-over going into the final two holes. She birdied hole 17, her seventh birdie of the day, to score an even-par 72. Schechter, from Takoma Park, Md., birdied two of her final three holes to finish with a par 72 and is tied for 13th place. Freshman Elizabeth Mallett, from Sutton Coldfield, England, recorded three birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey, earning a 2-over 74 and is tied for 21st place. Junior Cary, N.C., native Katherine Perry finished with a 3-over 75 after shooting 1-under on the front nine. Perry is tied in 32nd in the individual race.
"She obviously played some great golf out there," Coach Mann said of Chang. "She was cutting well and played very consistently as far as her ball striking is concerned. It was a great round for her."
Freshman Samantha Marks, from Maitland, Fla., playing as an individual, shot a 3-over 75 to tie in 32nd. Seniors Courtney Gunter and Michelle Ahn, also playing as individuals, each shot 8-over to tie in 78th place with scores of 80.
Hayley Davis of Baylor fired a 5-under 67 to lead after the first round of play. Virginia's Brittany Altomare shot a 3-under 69 to earn second place. In a four-way tie for third place at 2-under-par sit North Carolina's Chang, Laetitia Beck of Duke, Elizabeth Brightwell of Virginia and Isabelle Lendl of Florida. LSU's Lindsay Gahm and Louisville's Tara Lyons each finished at 1-under 71 to tie in seventh place. North Carolina's Grice and Schechter are two of eight golfers tied in ninth place at an even par 72.
"It was a good day," Davis said. "I've never played this course before until yesterday, but we got in a good practice round. I'm going to keep practicing today, and just go out there tomorrow like I did today and just hit the ball and see how it goes."
Virginia leads the 18-team pack after the first round. The Cavaliers fired a 2-under 286. North Carolina and Baylor are two strokes behind at even-par 288. LSU shot a 6-over 294 to finish in fourth place for the day. Duke rounds out the top five teams with an 8-over 296.
"We played very well. This is a good team and we've had some good rounds this fall," said Virginia head Coach Kim Lewellen. "And they just put it all together. We have a senior in our lineup that had been injured and she performed very well for us. That was helpful to have her experience. So, I just think having some of that seniority helped, and our first-year played great too. We just put it all together on the right day."
"Obviously it was a great day for golf," said Coach Mann in regards to the first round. "Beautiful weather, wonderful course conditions, and some great teams playing."
The Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational will continue Saturday, Oct. 13, at UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. The second round will begin at 8:51 a.m. off the 1st and 10th on the par 72, 6,379-yard layout. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Live scoring is also available on GoHeels and Golfstat.com.