Miller's First Sub-70 Round Puts Buffs In Second At Red Sky
WOLCOTT, Colo. — University of Colorado freshman Morgan Miller had been striking her woods and irons well all fall.
On Monday, her putter joined the party.
Miller shot Colorado's first round in the 60s on the young fall season, leading the Buffaloes into a tie for second place after the first round of the Golfweek Red Sky Classic at the Red Sky Golf Club Monday.
Miller shook off a slow start and recorded seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch to finish at 3-under-par, 69, and is in fourth place after 18 holes. Pepperdine's Lauren Gomez is the first-round leader with a 5-under, 67. Washington State's Darcy Habgood and Mercer's Tracy Rodriguez are tied for second at 4-under, 68.
"(Morgan) got her putter going," Colorado head coach Anne Kelly said. "We started making some putts. She's been striking the ball well, but just not taking advantage of birdie opportunities. She started to do so today."
The Buffaloes finished at 1-under, 287, on the day at the 6,367-yard, par 72 course, tying Fresno State and sits just two strokes off the lead. Pepperdine is the leader after the first round with a 3-under, 285. Xavier is in third, one stroke behind Colorado and Fresno State while Kennesaw State, Delaware and Mercer are tied for fifth at 289.
Overall Colorado had a bit of a roller coaster round. The Buffaloes started slow, but behind Miller, held the lead at the turn at 3-under. Colorado stumbled on the early holes of the back nine, playing No. 10-14 at 7-over collectively to fall back into the pack. But the Buffaloes rallied, playing the final four holes at 6-under to leap back into contention.
"Everyone showed a lot of heart and fight today," Kelly said. "No. 10 is a difficult par 3, 11 is not easy and 12 had a very difficult hole location. But we can improve there. We talked a little bit after the round and hopefully we'll find a way to play those holes a little better."
Miller struggled early, finding herself at 3-over through the first five holes, but a birdie at the 359-yard par-4 No. 6 began her impressive run in the red. After a par at No. 7, she birdied the next three, including back-to-back par 3s at No. 9 and 10 to get back to 1-under.
"Yesterday's practice rounds I was really feeling the greens. I knew it was going to be a good putting course for me. It took a couple holes today to get started, but when I drained one on (par 4) six, it really just started rolling well. My speed was great all day and matched it up will with my line."
Miller's only hiccup on the back nine was a bogey at the 372-yard par 4 No. 14. She rebounded nicely with consecutive birdies at No. 15 and 16 for her first collegiate sub-70 round.
"Coach pulled me aside (prior to) No. 6 and just said 'we're starting over from here, doesn't matter that's in the past'," Miller said. "So I just had to think of the team instead of myself. That's what helped my mentality a lot was more to do it for the team."
Graduate transfer Haylin Harris made her Colorado debut in style with a 2-under, 70. Harris, who joined the Buffaloes from Michigan State, shot 3-under on the back nine with birdies at No. 12, 15 and 17 to get into a seven-way tie for fifth place.
Sophomore Natalie Vo is tied for 27th place after shooting a 1-over, 73. She had a fantastic start with birdies on three of her first five holes to get to 3-under. Vo had a tough stretch of three bogeys in four holes on the back but got a shot back with a birdie at No. 16 to tie her season-best round.
Sophomore Lauren Gooding is tied for 56th at 3-over with a 75 in the first round. Like Vo, Gooding started off well, sitting at 1-under after nine, but like the rest of the Buffs, tumbled on the first part of the back. Gooding fell to 5-over through 14, but rallied with back-to-back birdies at No. 15 and 16 to get to 3-over.
"A lot of mental toughness out there today," Kelly said. "Lauren played a good solid front nine after kind of a rough start, and then she just got a lot of bad breaks. She was a bit unlucky, but to her credit, she never game up and played some really solid golf coming in."
Freshman Makenzie Cooper rounded out Colorado's first round, tied for 84th at 7-over, 79.
Colorado will tee off in the final pairings of Tuesday's second round with Pepperdine, Fresno State and Xavier beginning at 11:40 a.m.
|TOP 5 INDIVIDUALS|
|1.||Lauren Gomez, Pepperdine||67|
|T2.||Darcy Habgood, Washington State||68|
|T2.||Tracy Rodriguez, Mercer||68|
|4.||Morgan Miller, Colorado||69|
|T5.||Haylin Harris, Colorado||70|
|T5.||Harriet Lynch, Fresno State||70|
|T5.||Leigha Devine, Rutgers||70|
|T5.||Sophie Bert, East Tennessee State||70|
|T5.||Christina Carroll, Delaware||70|
|T5.||Carol Pyon, Mercer||70|
|T5.||Anna Watson, Eastern Michigan||70|
|9.||East Tennessee State||291|
|T14.||New Mexico State||296|