UCLA Pulls Out in Front After Day One
April 24, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - Steady if not spectacular, UCLA grabbed a slim edge over fellow powerhouses USC and Arizona State after the first day of the Pac-10 Women's Golf Championship presented by Duramed.
The Bruins, ranked No. 2 in the country by Golfweek, shot a 7-over-par 291 to take a one-stroke lead over third-ranked USC at the Stanford University Golf Course on Friday. Heading into the weekend of the 54-hole tournament, top-ranked Arizona State sits two strokes back.
'Given the way we played, to have a one-shot lead is encouraging because I didn't think we played our best,' UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said. 'I know we did leave some shots out there. They hung in there. Everyone struggled with something a little bit different.'
On a sunny day that featured increasing gusts of wind, two freshmen were the only players to break par. USC's Jennifer Song and Arizona State's Carlota Ciganda shot one-under 70 to share the individual lead.
'We had to control our ball,' related Song, who said hitting driver meant tempting a wind that sent some balls 30 yards off track. 'I didn't hit a lot of full shots today. I did a lot of three-quarter swings, choked down, and that helped me a lot.'
Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen said Ciganda's round was the bright spot of an otherwise frustrating day for the team.
'She'll be contending for sure for the championship. Her confidence is coming around,' said Luellen, who was particularly impressed with Ciganda's strong finish. 'She showed a lot of maturity as a freshman with the patience she showed out there today.'
As for the Sun Devils as a whole?
'The mood? Not so good,' said Luellen, whose team won the 2007 Pac-10 title. 'Two of them really struggled today. I'm actually thrilled we're only two back,' she added. 'I don't think they played very aggressive today.'
USC's Andrea Gaston, coach of the defending Pac-10 and NCAA champion, said there was plenty to build on from the Trojans' early showing.
'I'm certainly happy with our start,' said Gaston, who said 'a few too many three putts' bogged down the scores. 'It could've been better. You can't win on the first day, but you can throw it away.'
Meanwhile, UCLA benefited from three top-nine performances to gain momentum in bidding for its first Pac-10 title since 2006.
Sophomore Maria Jose Uribe birdied four holes and sits in third place after an even-par 71. Freshman Stephanie Kono (72) is in a five-way tie for fourth. Senior Tiffany Joh, the Pac-10's 2007 individual champion, carded a 73 to share ninth with three players.
'Maria Jose just played really solid golf today, just consistency-wise,' said Forsyth, adding she was pleased with Kono's ball-striking.
Arizona and Cal are tied for fourth place at 14-over 298. Sparked by senior Mari Chun's one-over 72, Stanford sits in fifth at 18-over.
Oregon State's Whitney French, Arizona State's Jennifer Osborn and Washington State's Amy Eneroth share fourth place with Chun and UCLA's Kono. French and Osborn tied UCLA's Uribe with a round-high four birdies.
Arizona State senior Azahara Munoz, Golfweek's No. 2 player and the 2008 NCAA individual champion, shot 2-over 73. Top-ranked Lizette Salas, a USC sophomore, is at 3-over. Washington (21-over), Washington State (22-over), Oregon State (25-over) and Oregon (28-over) round out the team standings.