TULSA, Okla. – No. 6 Washington is underway at the NCAA Championships, firing a round of 19-over 299 in windy conditions at the Tulsa Country Club. The Dawgs are tied for eighth, 10 shots back of No. 7 Oklahoma who leads after no team sniffed par on a difficult day for scoring.
Already a tough course, the winds kicked up to 30 MPH and gusted even higher as scoring suffered. Washington grinded out a solid round as the last group of the day and remains in contention with 54 holes left to play.
“It was so hard out there,” said head coach Mary Lou Mulflur. “It really was about surviving. The wind has just made it so difficult. Being the last teams out was tough. Usually the wind dies down in the afternoon, but today it just didn’t. We need to know we are still in it. It’s not like anyone is running away with it. It’s still anybodies golf tournament.”
Teams are tightly bunched at the top. After the Sooners, No. 2 UCLA is in second at 11-over, while No. 1 USC, No. 3 Duke and No. 5 Arizona State are tied for third at 13-over. The Dawgs were in that tie late in their round, but mistakes on 17 and 18 proved costly.
No. 25 California is alone in sixth at 16-over, No. 11 Arizona is seventh at 18-over and No. 22 Ohio State is in the tie for eighth with UW. As it has been all season, the Pac-12 has looked dominant with six of the top nine teams on the leaderboard.
The Dawgs placing looks even better considering no Husky individual went low on Thursday. Instead, Washington played consistent golf led by rounds of 4-over from Charlotte Thomas and Ying Luo. Thomas made only one birdie, but just five bogeys on her way to a 4-over 74. Luo managed two birdies on the way to a 74 as well.
“It was super windy out there,” said Thomas. “It was a grind it out kind of day. If you get a couple of birdies along the way, they feel like eagles and are a bonus. We had similar conditions on the last day of regionals, but even that doesn’t compare. Especially on a course that we don’t know, compared to Tumble Creek that we know well.”
Thomas and Luo are tied for 28th, seven shots off the lead. Lauren Kim of Stanford, Tonje Daffinrud of Denver and Doris Chen of USC are tied for the lead at 3-under 67. Of the 126 players in the field, only seven broke par.
“The course was setup tough even before the wind,” said Mulflur. “Another challenging thing is there are only two par fives. If you start to get into trouble, you are thinking I have no breather. It is really about maintaining your confidence out there. I don’t care who you are, today you got beaten up.”
Just one shot back of her teammates was Jennifer Yang at 5-over 75. Yang is tied for 41st after an up and down day that included birdies on both par fives, but five bogeys and a double. Yang did have it going with the putter, making a long putt for the birdie on three and saving several pars later on.
The final score kept was a 6-over 76 from SooBin Kim. Kim got off to a rough start, making bogeys on four of the first five holes, but played much better the rest of the round. Kim’s birdie on the par-three sixth was one of the highlights of the day as that hole played as the course’s most difficult at almost a full stroke over par. Kim is tied for 54th after her first round at an NCAA Championships.
Kelli Bowers also had a rough start and was nine over after eight holes. She also turned it around, however, playing the final 10 holes at just 1-over. After a birdie on the par-three ninth, Bowers shot 37 on the back nine that included another birdie on the difficult 18th. She is tied for 102nd after a round of 10-over 80.
Washington will have a quick turnaround as they are among the first teams on the course Tuesday morning. The Dawgs tee off beginning at 6:25 PT, playing with No. 4 South Carolina and No. 10 Alabama for the second-straight day.