Tigers Take Lead At SEC Women's Golf Tournament

Tunica, Miss.--With sophomore Nicole Hage shooting a 69 to lead the way, Auburn has an eight-stroke lead over Tennessee after round one on Friday at the SEC Women's Golf Championship.

Hage holds a two-stroke edge in the individual competition over Jessica Shapley of Tennessee. Those are the only two players who finished under par in the opening round.

The Tigers shot a three-over-par total of 291. Tennessee is two shots ahead of Georgia and Arkansas, which are tied for third at 301 at the par 72, Tunica National course.

Alabama and LSU are tied at 303 and are followed by Florida at 304, Vanderbilt at 308, Kentucky at 310, South Carolina 313, Ole Miss 321 and Missisippi State is last at 330.

"We attained our first goal, which was to come out and play solidly the first day, something we didn't do our last couple of tournaments," says Auburn coach Kim Evans. "I was pleased with what we did. It was a real solid start for us."

The 54-hole competition features 18 holes of play on Saturday and Sunday.

Freshman Margaret Shirley shot a 73 for the Tigers and is tied for seventh place individually. Junior Maria Martinez, who is tied for ninth, was next at 74 while senior Diana Ramage's 75 was the highest score the Tigers had to count. Ramage is tied for 14th place. Sophomore Jessica Lovell, Auburn's other player, shot a 76.

Evans notes that Hage's strong start was not really surprising. "We could see this coming because she had been playing well in practice the past couple of days and had a good practice round on Thursday," Evans says.

The Auburn team is playing the Tunica National course for the first time and Evans says the course is challenging, something her team likes. "I think tough courses are good for our team," she says. "We seem to do well on those types of courses."

The Auburn coach adds that the key to success is to forget about being in the lead and concentrate on playing two more solid rounds. "The important thing now is to get ready to play well on Saturday," she says.

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