Tide Women's Golf Off To Fast Start

AUBURN -- Why delay the inevitable? Although half the field of the Women's NCAA East Regional Golf Tournament was still on the course mid-afternoon Thursday at the Auburn University Club, it was obvious that Alabama -- the top seed in the regional and second-ranked team in the nation -- was going to be an easy first round leader.

Alabama, the 2012 national champion and coming off a romp in this year's Southeastern Conference tournament, played in the morning round as part of the top 12 seeds in the tournament. The rest of the field was playing in the afternoon.

And the Crimson Tide performed just as a champion is expected with the program's lowest-ever round in NCAA Tournament play.Bama delivere3d an 11-under-par score of 277, which also matches the lowest round of the season and is the second-lowest score in Alabama history.

"I had a good feeling about our scoring opportunities on this golf course," Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. "It reminded me a little of the course at the PING/ASU Invitational, and we played well there. We have a lot of girls that have been in this type of situation before, whether it was in junior golf, the U.S. Opens, or National Championships. They know what the standards are that we want to play to and that is to focus on every shot. It is not winning regionals, it is about scoring to the best of their ability, and they did a great job using their capabilities today."

Alabama has a six-shot lead over Arkansas and Tulane, who both carded rounds of 5-under 283 in the opening round. Among teams that had finished their opening rounds, UCLA is in fourth place at even-par 288 with Texas at 289 and North Carolina and Oklahoma State at 2-over-290.

The top eight finishers at the NCAA East Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at the University of Georgia Golf Course on May 21-24 in Athens.

True freshman Emma Talley fired the lowest round of her Alabama career with a 5-under 67 and is tied for the tournament lead with Arkansas' Emma Lavy and Tennessee's Erica Popson. The Princeton, Ky., native posted a bogey-free round that included a birdie on the seventh, an eagle on the par-5 12th and birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.

SEC Player of the Year Stephanie Meadow also carded a bogey-free round with a 4-under 68 with birdies on the first, 10th, 12th and 16th holes. She is tied for fourth with half of the field still on the course.

The Crimson Tide also got a sup-par round from junior Hannah Collier, who shot 2-under 70 with four birdies and two bogeys. Senior Jennifer Kirby finished her round strong with three birdies in the final six holes to offset a triple bogey on the 11th for an even-par 72. Daniela Lendl's 75 was dropped from the team score on Thursday.

"We have four girls that are All-SEC, the nation's current scoring leader, and the SEC Freshman of the Year, so it is not like they haven't been here before," Potter said. "They are very capable of shooting these types of scores day in and day out. What I'm most proud of is their mental capacity to just go out here and stay in the present. They just continue to play one shot at a time – that is all we talk about. They did a great job of that today, and never let the situation affect them."

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