Malia Nam (USC Athletics photo)
Behind a 4-under 68 by Malia Nam, the USC Trojans grabbed the first round lead at the Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships being held at Papago Golf Club in Phoenix.
Nam, who is tied for second on the individual leaderboard, was one of three Trojans who turned in subpar rounds on Monday. A 3-under 69 by Catherine Park, Amari Avery's 69 and an even par 72 by Brianna Navarossa accounted for USC's 9-under 279, which gave the Trojans a three-shot lead over Arizona (282) while Stanford is eight back at 1-under.
Nam, a fifth-year senior from Kailua, Hawaii who finished tied for third at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships, was 1-over on her round through 10 holes before catching a back nine heater that saw her birdie holes 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 for her 68. She is tied for second on the individual leaderboard with Arizona's Carolina Melgrati, who opened with four birdies on her first seven holes en route to a 68.
Melgrati is one of three Wildcats in the top-10 after the first day of the championships. Freshman Julia Misemer is tied for fifth after a 2-under round of 70 while sophomore Lilas Pintheir is tied for 10th at 1-under.
"We came out this morning and executed our gameplan on every hole," said Arizona head coach Laura Ianello. "I am incredibly proud of how our young ladies set the tone by playing with confidence and determination. Placing three golfers in the top ten was indicative of how strong our entire team played today. Our focus is going back out on Tuesday and carding another quality round by building on our confidence and preparation."
Nam and Melgrati are one back of first round leader Rose Zhang, who turned in a bogey-free 67 Monday moring at Papago. In her second start since winning the Augusta National Women's Amateur in late March, the world's top-ranked women's amateur went out in 1-under and picked up four birdies coming home for a 67.
"I'm super thankful to be out here with my teammates – it's postseason time," Zhang said following the round. "I stayed patient out there. I had a couple of par putts that I made to help my momentum. With the winds picking up this afternoon, it was important to stay patient and keep hitting good shots, even if the results weren't following. Tomorrow will be the same strategy – stay prepared, know the winds are going to be changing and predict the unpredictable."
Without the services of Rachel Heck and Brooke Seay, Stanford's depth is going to be put to the test this postseason, as Zhang was the only player to shoot under par Monday at Papago. Senior Angelina Ye, who birdied two of her final three holes for an even par 72, was the second-lowest counting score for the second-ranked Cardinal on Monday.
The Pac-12 Championships continue Tuesday and Wednesday at Papago Golf Club.
Stanford and Arizona 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
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