AUBURN, ALA. - The University of North Carolina 11th-ranked women's golf team fired a 2-over-par 290 in the first round of the NCAA East Regional and is tied for sixth place. Junior Jackie Chang led the way for the Tar Heels as she fired a 4-under 68 on Thursday and Casey Grice was just one shot back at 2-under 70.
"The team started off very strong," says Tar Heel head coach Jan Mann. "There were a few hiccups on our back nine (the front nine since Carolina started on tee #10) for a couple of our players. Jackie and Casey both had very good rounds. Overall, the team had 16 birdies and one eagle. Tomorrow we are looking forward to a lot more birdies and pars."
Chang fired five birdies and one bogey en route to her 4-under 68, the low round of her collegiate career. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native is tied for fourth place in the individual race, just one stroke behind the leaders. Grice fired four birdies and two bogeys on her way to a 2-under 70. The junior from College Station, Texas, is tied for ninth among all individuals. Elizabeth Mallett, a freshman from Sutton Coldfield, England, shot a 2-over 74 in the first round and stands tied for 44th place. Junior Katherine Perry, from Cary, N.C., shot a 6-over 78 on Thursday and is tied for 93rd while sophomore Maia Schechter, from Takoma Park, Md., carded a 7-over 79 and is tied for 96th.
Top-seed Alabama fired a sizzling 11-under-par 277 and leads the field of 24 teams. Arkansas and Tulane are six strokes back in a tie for second place at 5-under 283. UCLA is alone in fourth place at even par 288 while Texas is fifth at 1-over 289, and North Carolina and Oklahoma State are tied for sixth place at 2-over 290. Northwestern and Notre Dame are tied for eighth place at 4-over 292 while Tennessee rounds out the top 10 at 6-over 294.
There is a three-way tie for the individual lead at 5-under-par 67 between Emma Lavy of Arkansas, Erica Popson of Tennessee and Emma Talley of Alabama. Carolina's Chang is tied for fourth place at 4-under 68 with Stephanie Meadow of Alabama and Emily Penttila of Tulsa. Desiree Dubreuil of Texas and Shu-Yin Liu of Tulsa are tied for seventh place at 3-under 69. Carolina's Grice is one of five players tied for ninth place at 2-under 70 with Alabama's Hannah Collier, Tulane's Madison Opfer, Texas' Madison Pressel and Oklahoma State's Julie Yang.
The 54-hole event is being played Auburn University Club which features a par 72, 6,259-yard layout. The top eight teams and top two individuals not on those eight teams will advance on to the NCAA Championships to be played May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga. The Tar Heels will begin teeing off the first tee at 1:56 EDT in Friday's second round. Live scoring is available on GoHeels.com and Golfstat.com.