May 22, 2012
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The 28th-ranked Oklahoma women's golf team fired a 294 (+6) in the opening round of the NCAA Championships on Tuesday at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., good for ninth place among 24 teams.
The Sooners are eight strokes behind first-place Alabama and just two shots out of the top five with three rounds remaining.
"We're close to where we want to be," said OU head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell, whose Sooners are competing in the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2002 and for just the fifth time in program history. "The girls played solid despite a few hiccups towards the end. We have 54 holes left and a lot can happen. I think we can surprise a lot of teams and make a run over the next three days."
The Sooners' 294 marked their third-lowest opening-round score of the season, as well as their best of the spring portion of the 2011-12 slate.
Oklahoma sophomore Chirapat "Ja" Jao-Javanil birdied her final three holes (Nos. 7 through 9) to finish with a 3-under 69. She sits in a tie for fifth place out of 126 competitors, just three strokes behind leader Portland Rosen of Virginia.
Jao-Javanil is the second golfer in OU history to record a round in the 60s at the NCAA Championships and the first to do it in the first round. Lisa Meldrum posted a 67 in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Championships.
"I had a slow start today and I wasn't able to pick up as many birdies on the front nine as I had hoped," said Jao-Javanil. "Towards the end, my putts just started falling. I feel good and hope this will continue the rest of the week."
The Sooners received another solid round from fellow sophomore Anne-Catherine Tanguay. The Quebec product carded four birdies among her first 17 holes before getting stuck in a sand trap and double-bogeying the par-5 ninth. Tanguay managed to finish with an even-par 72 and sits in a tie for 18th place.
Junior Taylor Schmidt recorded two early birdies and parred 10 of her final 12 holes to post a 2-over 74. Schmidt is tied for 34th place and is just two shots out of the top 20.
Sophomore Emily Collins and Jacki Marshall each scored a 79 (+7) and are tied for 104th place.
The Sooners, who won the Big 12 Championship in April, are one of four league schools competing in this week's national championship event. They lead Texas (11th place) by three shots, Baylor (14th place) by five strokes and Texas A&M (17th place) by seven shots.
Oklahoma will tee off in an afternoon session on Wednesday beginning at 12:56 CT alongside golfers from Arkansas and Michigan State. Live scoring is available on Golfstat.com and NCAA.com.