By Paul Dodson, NAIA Media Coordinator
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - (Individual Results | Team Results | Video Recap) Day One of the 24th Annual NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship saw wet and windy conditions, resulting in a challenging opening round at PGA National (The Champions Course) (par 72, 5,875 yards) on Tuesday.
Atop the team leaderboard after the first day of action is SCAD Savannah (Ga.), which shot a 12-over 300. The No. 1-ranked team in the nation coming into this week’s National Championship holds a nine-stroke lead over second-place Williams Woods (Mo.) (+21) heading into Day Two. Rounding out the top five are Taylor (Ind.) (+23), Southeastern (Fla.) (+24), and University of Northwestern Ohio (+25).
“I thought we were extremely patient,” SCAD Savannah Head Coach Amanda Workman said. “It definitely was difficult with the wind; it’s very wet out there.”
Starting on Hole No. 1, the Bees were six-over heading into the turn. Strong performances on the back nine by Corinne Grans-Wood (-1 on the back nine) and Maria Paula Otero (E) on the back nine), helped SCAD Savannah finish the round with the field’s top score.
“The back nine is very challenging and we weren’t without our mistakes,” Workman said. “Everyone is going to have a bad hole and it’s just how you respond to it. What we have really been talking about is our process in not being afraid to miss. I think on a course like this, you are going to have double; you’re going to have bogeys; you’re going to have bad shots. It’s all about how you stay patient and how you recover. I think we did really well at that today.”
Grans-Wood was the only player in the field of 157 to finish the day even (72). The native of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, used a birdie on Hole 10 and eight-straight pars to end the day on top of the individual leaderboard.
“I was hitting it very well and I felt really good out there,” Grans-Wood said. “I’m a senior, this is my fourth year, and the outlook I had was that I have spent four years, practicing and waiting and I went into today with the confidence that I have put the time in to be able to come out and play well.”
Following Grans-Wood on the individual leaderboard is Aleesha Smith of William Carey (Miss.) with a 73 along with Daria Delfino of Loyola (La.) and Courtney Lowery of Point (Ga.) who sit tied for second. There is a four-way tie for fifth as Paulina Camacho of SCAD Savannah, Cadence Hellman of Victoria (B.C.), Janelle Ferlan of Oregon Tech, and Nikki Callahan of Williams Woods who all shot a two-over 74.
Difficult conditions are expected to continue all week.
“The wind and the rain were a challenge,” Grans-Wood said. “It made the course play a lot longer. But, you have to accept the conditions and play the course that way.”
“We need to stay patient,” Workman said. “We are prepared for whatever conditions there are. We’ve talked about that and you can’t control it. We need to worry about what we can control. If we can do that, moving forward, we’ll be good.”
For the second-straight year, Keiser (Fla.) and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission are serving as hosts for this year’s National Championship held at PGA National.
Second-round action in the four-round national tournament gets underway Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. ET.