South Carolina women’s golf coach Kalen Anderson stresses the importance of patience, and the Gamecocks – and the other 23 teams – needed that in the NCAA Division Women’s Golf Championship that began Friday.
The combination of the challenging course, Rich Harvest Farms near Chicago, and tough weather conditions – cold temperatures, rain and brisk winds – sent scores soaring in the first round. The Palmetto State’s three teams – USC, Clemson and Furman – suffered with the others.
Despite finishing 25-over-par, the Gamecocks hold seventh place and are only two strokes from a tie for third. Clemson is 17th at 33 over, and Furman is 19th at 35 over.
Freshman Ana Pelaez birdied two of her last three holes to post a 3-over 75 to lead the Gamecocks. She is tied for ninth individually. Ainhoa Olarra followed with 76, and All-American Katelyn Dambaugh finished with an 80. Ana Paula Valdes led Clemson with a 77 and Alice Hewson, the Tigers’ top player, and Sydney Legacy both posted 81s. Haylee Harford’s 76 topped the Furman players.
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Playing as an individual, College of Charleston’s Laura Fuenfstueck fired a 76.
Conditions played no favorites. Second-ranked Alabama is 21st in the 24-team field at 40-over par. Lauren Stephenson (Lexington), the Crimson Tide’s No. 2 player, shot 85. Eighth-ranked Duke is 19th at 36-over par.
Northwestern, at 13-over, and Kent State, at 15-over, are the only teams better than 23-over par.
The top eight teams after Monday’s fourth round advance to match-play to determine the team champion.