Burnett's 71 (-1) Leads Gamecocks to Open NCAA Championship
May 18, 2011
By Wes Todd
Burnett recorded a score of 1-under-par 71 to tie for fifth place overall on a day when birdies were tough to come by. The Gamecocks, as a team, posted a score of 302 (+14) to tie the nation's No. 1-ranked team, Southern California, for 12th place after 18 holes of play.
After finishing ninth at this event a year ago, Burnett picked up where she left off last year in Wilmington with a chip-in for birdie on the first hole. She fell to 1-over after bogeys at the second and fourth holes, but then pulled back even with birdie at No. 6. A bogey at the difficult par-4 ninth - on which the Gamecocks were 7-over-par as a team today - put her at 1-over as she made the turn. But the back nine was much friendlier to Burnett as she recorded a rare birdie at the par-4 13th then finished with another at 18 to close out a bogey-free back nine and the Gamecocks' only round under par of the day.
Sophomore Amanda Strang, the team's other veteran from last year's NCAA Championship, posted a 3-over-par 75 where she was able to get her putter working much better than it did at the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago. An opening birdie got her to 1-under, and she pulled back to even with a birdie at No. 7 after bogeys at the second and third holes. However, like Burnett, she ran into trouble at No. 9 with a bogey to make the turn at 1-over. Bogeys on 11 and 13 dropped her to 3-over before she got a shot back at the 14th. Another bogey at No. 15 dropped her to 3-over, but she came to the finish with three straight pars to finish off a solid first round in a tie for 42nd place.
Freshmen Suzie Lee and Samantha Swinehart posted rounds of 78 (+6), tying for 79th place through one round, albeit in completely different manners. Lee was 2-under through her first eight holes after birdies at No. 2 and No. 4 - even sharing the early tournament lead at one point. But again, the ninth hole was a killer as she made double-bogey to turn at even par. A tough stretch of holes from 11-13 dropped her to 4-over, but she managed to settle down and card four straight pars coming to the 18th. However, a four-putt double-bogey dropped her to 6-over for the day.
Swinehart struggled a bit to begin her round with three bogeys on her first five holes and a double-bogey at the ninth to make the turn at 5-over. But she rolled off seven straight pars on the back nine and had just one bogey at No. 17 as she finished off a 78 of her own. The team's third freshman, Katie Rose Higgins, will look to rebound on Thursday from an opening-round 84; she did, however, record a pair of birdies on the day.
Second-ranked UCLA was the team most able to combat the tough scoring conditions, posting a 1-over-par 289 to lead the tournament after Wednesday's play concluded in the late afternoon hours. Fifth-ranked Virginia is in second place at 291 (+3), with Purdue and LSU tied for third place at 292 (+4).
In the individual standings, the Cavaliers' Brittany Altomare holds the first-day lead after an opening 69 (-3). She's one shot ahead of Caroline Powers (Michigan State, playing as an individual), Michelle Shin (Wake Forest) and Glory Yang (UCLA), who all shot 70 (-2). Burnett is in a five-way tie for fifth place at 1-under-par.
Wednesday's first round was played under overcast skies and temperatures in the 80s with high humidity in some parts of the course and high winds at other places. For many players, the course seemed to play much longer than its 6,260-yard measurement, especially on holes that were upwind. The winds were picking up as the Gamecocks finished their day around 2:30 p.m. CT, just as the final pairings of the afternoon flight were beginning their round.
The Gamecocks will play in the afternoon flight in Thursday's second round with tee times beginning at 1:36 p.m CT on the No. 10 tee. South Carolina will once again be paired with Ohio State and Purdue. Live scoring is available through NCAA.com, and fans can receive updates from the course via Twitter by following @GamecockWGolf.
2011 NCAA WOMEN'S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP - First Round