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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 9-seeded Oklahoma women’s golf team opened play in the NCAA Columbus Regional with a 2-under 286 to take a one-stroke lead after 18 holes at the par-72 Ohio State University Golf Club Scarlet Course on Monday.
The Sooners used late birdies from Kaitlin Milligan and Mikhaela Fortuna on the 16th hole to pass No. 2-ranked and top-seeded Duke (-1, 2nd). Milligan’s late birdie moved her into a tie for second.
Following 54 holes of play, the top six teams will advance to compete in the NCAA Championship.
“We played really solid today,” 12th-year head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell said, “I mean, we’ve obviously had a lot of things thrown at us with the weather and not getting a practice round. Luckily, we were able to walk the golf course at least yesterday, which makes you see it a little bit differently and makes you really aware of where things are. But overall, I’m really proud of the ladies for fighting all day long.”
Milligan, who won the 2019 NCAA Regional in Norman, fired her third round of 70-or-better on the season by posting a 70 (-2) on the biggest stage of the season. The senior from Norman shares second place with four others entering Tuesday’s second round one shot behind leader Haley Borja of Michigan. Her birdie on the par-four 16th hole was the shot that powered Oklahoma past top-seeded Duke on day one, as her four birdies led the team.
“This type of performance has been a long-time coming,” Milligan said after the round. “We just haven’t been able to put all five scores together in a round. It’s there for every single one of us, and today we were able to do it, and this is the right time to be peaking. This is just the beginning of what we want to accomplish this month.”
Milligan’s breakout opening round was accompanied by Libby Winans, who carded a 71 (-1) to join her teammate under par. The junior bogeyed her second hole but rattled off a trio of birdies on the front nine, followed by eight more pars and a birdie on the back to post the lowest-opening round of her season.
“I was so pumped today to put together the round that I did,” Winans said after the round. “Admittedly, I had some nerves going off the first tee but then had a putt drop on my third hole, which helped me settle in. I’m really proud of myself and that I could contribute to the team today. But at the end of the day, it’s a team sport, and the rest of our team played great and put us in a good spot moving into tomorrow.”
Hannah Screen (E, T15) used a pair of birdies and bogeys to stay in the thick of it after 18 holes. The London, U.K., product steady for the Sooners on Monday, posting a team-best even-par average on par-four holes and collecting 14 pars. The all-time leading scorer at OU has finished inside the top 10 five times this season, good for best on the team.
Mikhaela Fortuna (+1, T23) answered a double-bogey on the par-four seventh with two birdies and a bogey to finish her day at 1-over and in contention, just four shots off the lead. The Manila product used her last seven holes to create momentum heading into Tuesday’s second round, collecting both of her birdies in that stretch.
Maria Fernanda Martinez (+3, T40) had several great par-saves on Monday, but two back-nine bogeys moved the sophomore back into a tie for 40th at 3-over. Martinez has been notably better in her second rounds this season, averaging a four-stroke improvement after her first round, best on the team.
The Sooners tee off on Tuesday starting at 9:50 ET with No. 1 seed Duke (-1, 2nd) and No.7 seed Michigan (E, 3rd). The final group features the field’s top three individuals in Kaitlin Milligan, Gina Kim (-2, Duke) and Hailey Borja (-3, UMich).
Spectators are permitted at the Regional based on local/state guidelines, which are subject to change. It is requested that spectators wear masks at all times and follow physical distancing protocols, including remaining at least 15 yards away from student-athletes, coaches and other team personnel. Spectators must also keep distanced from tee boxes and greens. The event is free of charge.
Stark shoots 67, Cowgirls in fourth in Stanford
STANFORD – The Oklahoma State women’s golf team is in fourth place after the first 18 holes at the NCAA Regional in Stanford, California.
OSU is making its 27th NCAA Regional appearance, coming off of a record-breaking Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma State is looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the 22nd time in program history and for the first time since 2016.
Maja Stark led the Cowgirls to a 3-over 287 on the day. Stark finished a bogey-free day in a tie for first place, shooting 4-under 67. She notched two individual titles this season in addition to individual titles also earned by Fierro, Bailey and Tatematsu.
Stanford leads the field at 12-under 272.
Isabella Fierro finished the day on par shooting a 71 including 3 birdies. Lianna Bailey posted a 3-over 74 and in a tie for 46th place.
Rina Tatematsu and Han-Hsuan Yu finished in a tie for 54th and 90th respectively.
The low six teams and the low three individuals not on those teams at each of the four NCAA Regional sites will advance to the NCAA National Championship in Scottsdale Arizona on May 21-26.
Tulsa’s first-round postponed in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. –– Heavy rainstorms made the course at the University Club unplayable Monday as first round action in the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship – Baton Rouge Regional was postponed.
The current plan is for a 10 a.m. shotgun start on Tuesday at the par-72 University Club.
Tulsa comes in as the No. 13 seed after winning the American Athletic Conference Championship. Host LSU is the No. 1 seed followed by Ole Miss, Baylor, Oregon, Maryland, Alabama, Oregon State, Houston, Miami (Fla.) and North Texas rounding out the top 10 seeds.
Baton Rouge is one of four regional championships taking place this week. The top six teams (24 teams) and the low three individuals (12 individuals total) not on an advancing team from each regional site will advance to the national championships at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., May 21-26.