Daytona Beach – The Stetson Hatters are 10 shots off the lead after the opening round of play at the LPGA Xavier Collegiate Invitational on Friday.
The 54-hole event will continue with single rounds of play on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Hatters are ninth in the 14 team field after posting a 32-over par score of 320 on Friday. While the round was the highest of the season so far for Stetson, the Hatters are still within striking distance of the lead with 36 holes still left to be played.
“Looking at the scores, the course had a little to do with the way everyone played, and it was very breezy out there,” Hatters coach Floyd Kerr said. “I was a little surprised when I turned in our scores to see 310 leading. To be only 10 shots back means that if we go out tomorrow and have a decent round we can be right in the thick of things.”
Breezy conditions and a very tough course inflated scores throughout the field. Florida Gulf Coast owns the early team lead after posting a 310 on Friday. The Eagles have a one-shot lead over host Xavier and a two shot advantage over both Old Dominion and Mercer.
“We are still not executing basic shots,” Kerr said. “We have worked in practice, and we execute those shots, but we are not transferring that to the course. They have to realize it is the same shots they are making in practice.”
Individually, not a single player managed to break par on the opening day of play. Xavier freshman Shane Crutchfield, a native of St. Petersburg, finished with an even par 72 to hold a one stroke advantage over Mercer junior Lacey Fears.
Stetson junior Sammi Smith (Louisville, Ky.) is one of four players tied for seventh place overall, four shots off the tournament lead. Smith’s 76 on Friday included a 37 on the front nine and a 39 on the back.
“Sammi played a solid round,” Kerr said. “She putted and chipped the ball well, but had one bad hole. She had a series of three shots that were uncharacteristic of the things she was doing, but she is hitting the ball well. We have others who are hitting good enough to shoot better numbers, but we have to get back to hitting basic shots and doing what we can do.”
Overall, the course at LPGA International, which played to 6,178 yards, took a toll on the field. There were a total of just 79 birdies with no eagles in the opening round to go with 437 bogeys, 147 double bogeys and 51 other scores. Smith was one of just six players to card as many as three birdies in the opening round of play.
As a team, the Hatters managed just five birdies in the opening round. Smith’s birdies came on the par 4 fourth hole, which was her final hole of the day, along with the par 5 eighth and the par 5 14th. She had bogies on holes 1, 2, 9 and 12 and a triple bogey on the par 5 16th.
In addition to Smith, junior Ryan Ashburn (Largo, Fla.) is in the hunt after shooting a six-over par score of 78. She is tied for 13th overall in the field. Juniors Mallory Viera (Howie-in-the-Hills, Fla.), Claudia Redinger (Durban, South Africa) and Jenna Hoecker (Rochester, NY) are a little further back in the field of 75 players. Viera is tied for 37th after an opening round score of 82, Redinger is tied for 49th after an 84 and Hoecker finished the opening day with an 87, good for a tie for 58th.
“I know our girls aren’t happy about what they are doing on the course right now,” Kerr said. “When they start to realize that the game is not as hard as they are trying to make it, and they start transferring the things they are doing in practice to the course, then I think we will see scores start to come down.”
The Hatters will be paired with players from North Florida and McNeese State for Saturday’s second round, which will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Stetson’s players will begin play on holes 7-10.