Rose Zhang (Stanford Athletics photo)
The Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships has all of the makings of a three-day tussle between a handful of teams that have legitimate national championship aspirations and after the first day of action at the Eugene (Ore.) Country Club, Stanford holds a two-stroke lead over ninth-ranked USC while three other squads are within five strokes of the top-ranked Cardinal.
Stanford, playing without Rachel Heck
who is sidelined with an illness, shot a 2-over score of 290 on Monday to open a two-shot lead over the Trojans. The Cardinal were led by freshman Rose Zhang's
1-under 71, while Brooke Seay
carded an even-par round of 72. Stanford also counted rounds by Aline Krauter
(73) and Sadie Englemann
(74) on Monday.
It's not the first time Stanford has faced its conference foes at less than full strength. At the Pac-12 Preview
back in November, the Cardinal was without the services of Heck, Zhang and Caroline Sturdza
, but still had enough in the tanks to muster a gritty, three-shot, wire-to-wire win at Nanea Golf Club on the Big Island of Hawaii.
"We played with Oregon today and it was nice to learn from them and watch some of the lines they take on holes," said Stanford head coach Anne Walker. "Hopefully we can use that learning to our benefit moving forward.
"We got lucky with the weather, missing most of the rain. But we did have high winds our last six holes and that was certainly challenging. I was impressed with our ball striking in those conditions. It kept us in a good position."
USC's Brianna Navarrosa
USC was paced by Brianna Navarrosa
, who turned in a 2-under par 70 to take the first-round lead over Zhang, Stefanie Deng
of Washington and Alessandra Fanali
of Arizona State.
Starting on hole No. 10, the Trojan sophomore shot even par on her first nine holes and picked up a pair of birdies on her inward nine for a 2-under round of 70. Zhang, looking for her fourth individual title of the season, had two birdies and just one bogey for a steady 1-under round of 70.
Trojans Katherine Muzi
, Amari Avery
and Xin (Cindy) Kou
all turned in 2-over rounds of 74 and are tied for 14th.
"I'm really pleased with the overall performance from today," USC head coach Justin Silverstein said. "The entire group hung tough in very difficult conditions and put up a great opening round. Bri put together one of her most disciplined rounds of the year and it resulted in a phenomenal score. She was very patient with her iron play and capitalized on some makable birdie opportunities."
Deng had the most interesting card of the day. The sophomore opened her round with a double bogey on the 10th hole and after settling things down with a couple of pars, reeled off four straight birdies on holes 13-16 to move to 2-under on the day. Deng gave a shot back with a bogey on the fifth hole (her 14th), but bounced back with her fifth birdie of the day on the par-3, 145-yard seventh hole. A bogey on the last left her with a 1-under round of 70.
Fanali, who won the Silverado Showdown
in Napa, Calif. two weeks ago, birdied her last two holes to finish under par.
Arizona State and Washington are tied for third place at 6-over 294, while second-ranked Oregon couldn't take advantage of Duck weather on its home course and struggled to a 7-over 295.
Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu
carded an even-par 72 and is tied for fifth individually. Tze-Han (Heather) Lin
and Ching-Tzu Chen
shot 2-over 74 and Briana Chacon
finished at 3-over 75 to round out the scoring for the Ducks.
"It's pretty remarkable how many teams are bunched up right now," said Oregon head coach Derek Radley. "We're really all together. Obviously not the start we wanted; however, I kind of love where we're at with two days to go. Excited just to recap together, figure out what went wrong in some spots and figure out how to capitalize the next two days."
The high winds that greeted the golfers on Monday are expected to subside a bit over the next two days, but rain remains in the forecast.
"The next two days though, the wind is supposed to die down even if it's supposed to rain, and that'll be our comfort zone," said Radley.
Stanford, USC and Oregon Athletic Communications contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE Pac-12 Women's Championship
54-hole stroke-play to decide the champion of the
Pacific Athletic Conference. Team (best four scores
of five players each round) and individual
View Complete Tournament Information