Jekyll Island, Ga. – Stetson University senior Jenna Hoecker is just one shot off the lead after an opening round score of even par 72 at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Tournament.
Hoecker held the lead for much of the first round, but a double-bogey on the 500-yard par 5 15th hole, her only blemish on the back nine, turned her one stroke lead over the field into a one shot deficit.
For the second-straight year, Jacksonville's Jessica Welch sits tied at the top of the leaderboard after the first 18 holes. Welch and Kennesaw State's Kaew Preamchuen both fired rounds of one-under par 71 to pace the conference field.
Mercer holds a three-shot lead over Kennesaw State in the race for the league title on the strength of five strong rounds. Lacey Fears, who is tied with Hoecker for third, led the Bears with an opening 72. Her teammates followed with scores of 73, 74, 75, and 76 to give Mercer a six-over par total of 294.
Kennesaw State, led by Preamchuen, is three shots back after an opening 297. The Owls got scores of 74, 74, and two 77s. Defending A-Sun individual champion Ines Lescudier opened with a 75 and is tied for 12th.
The Hatters are tied with Jacksonville or sixth after an opening round score of 307. The Hatters are just two shots behind UNF (305) for fourth. Defending tournament champion ETSU is third after an opening round score of 300.
Behind Hoecker, the Hatters got a pair of 77s from seniors Mallory Viera and Ryan Ashburn. Viera, who finished fourth in the A-Sun tournament last year, was four over on the front, but had a pair of birdies on the back before closing with a double-bogey on the par 4 18th hole. Ashburn was five over at the turn and scored nine consecutive pars on the back nine.
Freshman Alessandra Kutz had two bad holes during her first round of conference tournament play. Her double-bogy on the par 4 fifth hole and triple on the par four eighth gave her a 44 on the front nine. She can back on the back with eight pars and one bogey to finish at 81.
Senior Claudia Redinger finished her first round with an 84.
The Hatters will be paired again on Tuesday with players from Jacksonville. They will open play on the back nine beginning at 8 a.m.Live scoring throughout the A-Sun Championship is available via GolfStat.com. For more information on the Championship visit the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Page at atlanticsun.org.