NCAA Women's Golf Regionals: USC, Arizona, UW lead the way early

Douglas Taylor Photography / Washington Athletics

Washington leads the Baton Rouge Regional, USC leads the Stanford Regional and Arizona is tied for first in the Bryan Regional after the first round of the 2016 NCAA Women's Golf Regionals held across the country. All nine Pac-12 teams involved in regional play are in the top-half of their respective regionals after 18 holes. The top-six teams from each regional and top-three individuals from non-top-six teams qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 20-25 in Eugene. 

Baton Rouge Regional

Washington

The Baton Rouge Regional has been dominated in the early going by the Conference of Champions, with Pac-12 schools holding two of the top-three spots. Oregon and Washington finished their rounds nearly simultaneously, with the Huskies getting in as the clubhouse leaders at a team score of -2. All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention senior Ying Luo led the Dawgs at 3-under, a score that has her in a tie for first with Houston's Leonie Harm. Meanwhile, Julianne Alvarez finished right behind her by carding a 70 on the par-72 course (-2), putting her into a tie for third with South Carolina's Marion Veysseyre and Katelyn Dambaugh and K-State's Madison Talley. The Huskies enter the second round with a four-stroke lead over second-place South Carolina.

[Related: 2016 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional scores (GolfStatResults.com)]

Oregon

Meanwhile, the Ducks got into the clubhouse at +4, good for third behind the Dawgs and Gamecocks. Marcella Pranovia and Petra Salko were the first two in with a pair of 2-overs (with Pranovia going -3 on the back nine), while Kathleen Scavo followed up with a +1 and Cathleen Santoso  used a hot start to stay in red at -1 and get her into seventh place on the individual leaderboard. More good news for Oregon is that it's in the top three without using the score of its top golfer, 2015 Pac-12 champ Caroline Inglis, whose +3 was washed away (expect a better Friday and Saturday from her; she did end Thursday with a birdie on 18, so maybe that's a sign of things to come).

Arizona State

2016 Pac-12 champion Linnea Strom's 1-under-par effort headlined the day for Arizona State, which finds itself in sixth going into Friday in Louisiana. Strom, the Pac-12 Golfer of the Month for April, birdied the last hole to card a 71 and got some big help from Madison Kerley – the No. 4 Sun Devil went 1-over on the round. At one point in the round, Arizona State was tied for second with Oregon and South Carolina before falling off the pace a bit (a bogey-triple bogey-bogey 14-16 for Roberta Liti didn't help matters on that front). At 8-over (296), ASU is two strokes ahead of tied-for-seventh BYU and Duke heading into the second round.

Shoal Creek Regional

California

Over in the Shoal Creek Regional (Alabama), the Golden Bears find themselves with a little work to do, finishing their Thursday round in eighth at 19-over. Not helping matters was that top-ranked Golden Bear and 47th-ranked collegiate golfer Lucia Gutierrez was 5-over through her first seven holes and finished with an 80 (+8). The good news is that her score didn't count, as Marianne Li led the Cal contingent with a 2-over-74 and Marthe Wold backed her up with a 3-over-75, a score that could have been even better were it not for double bogeys on nine and 16. As of now, head coach Nancy McDaniel's Golden Bears are four strokes off sixth-place New Mexico State. Plenty of regional left to make up that ground and advance to Eugene. 

[Related: 2016 NCAA Shoal Creek Regional scores (GolfStatResults.com)]

Stanford Regional

USC

'Twas good day for the Pac-12 in the Stanford Regional as well, with two of the top-three spots going to USC and Stanford. USC held true to its top seed, sporting a one-stroke lead over Virginia heading into Friday. Head coach Andrea Gaston got a big lift from the bottom of the lineup, as No. 5 Trojan Tiffany Chan carded an even-par-71 alongside top-ranked Trojan Robynn Ree. Kyung Kim's 1-over effort also helped pave the way for the 2016 Pac-12 champs and 18-hole Stanford Regional leaders, who didn't have an individual score worse than 2-over that counted towards the team total.

[Related: 2016 NCAA Stanford Regional scores (GolfStatResults.com)]

Stanford

Flirting with first place all day long, Stanford wound up in third with a score of 289 (+5), two shots behind USC and one shot behind second-place Virginia. Last year's hero in the NCAA Championships, Mariah Stackhouse birdied 16 and 17 to get to 2-under on the day and was one of three players Thursday to shoot under 70 at Stanford Golf Course (she is one stroke behind Colorado State's Katrina Prendergast for first). One reason why Stackhouse birdied 17? One heullva tee shot on the par-3 hole:

Casey Danielson (+1) and Shannon Aubert (+2) also provided solid rounds for the defending national champs.

Colorado

"From Last to Top Third of the Pack: The Colorado Women's Golf Story" would be an appropriate title for a potential documentary on the Buffs' Thursday round at Stanford, as Anne Kelly's squad scraped its way up from 18th to a tie for sixth by round's end. Granted, the Buffs got out earlier than most teams, which mainly explains why they were last for the first couple of hours or so, but Brittany Fan was another reason why the Buffs made a northern charge up the team leaderboard:

While Fan finished even par on the par-71 course, Duke transfer and First Team All-Pac-12 Esther Lee was right behind her at 1-over, birdieing two of her last four holes (good story on Lee by Pat Rooney of BuffZone.com recently). When it was all said and done, Colorado got into the clubhouse with a collective 11-over-par (295) alongside Wake Forest.

Bryan Regional

Arizona

Entrenched in a battle of tug of war with the Bulldogs for the latter part of the round, Arizona finished with Georgia in a tie for first. Helping the Wildcats out to 3-under-285 was was their No. 4 golfer Gigi Stoll, whose 3-under-69 has her in a four-way tie for third. She got off to a scorching-hot start, birdieing four of her first five holes. Meanwhile, Krystal Quihuis, who finished tied for fifth on the individual leaderboard at the 2016 Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships, was consistent throughout the day (save for a double bogey on No. 4) and finished 1-under.

[Related: 2016 NCAA Bryan Regional scores (GolfStatResults.com)]

UCLA

Four strokes behind the 'Cats and 'Dogs are the Bruins, who finished in fifth at 1-over for the day. Bronte Law, the top-ranked collegiate golfer according to Golfstat, led the Bruins with a 3-under 69 (tied for third on the individual leaderboard). The October Pac-12 Women's Golfer of the Month was nothing if not consistent, playing a bogey-free round at Traditions Golf Club. Lilia Vu's 2-under also helped UCLA's cause, as the freshman birdied back-to-back holes on the back nine to get back into the red.

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