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MESA, Ariz.--Senior Emily Talley matched the program record by shooting a 6-under par 66 and the No. 15 University of Colorado women’s golf team shot its best team round ever, an 11-under par 277, to take an 11 stroke lead here Friday after the first round of the 2012 Clover Cup.  

Three Buffaloes were the only team in the field to shoot under par in the first round, and at 11-under par 277, they are 11 strokes ahead of host Notre Dame (even par 288) on the 6,209-yard, Par 72 Longbow Golf Club course. No. 26 Oklahoma is in third at 1-over par 289 followed by a tie for fourth between Florida International and Furman at 4-over par 292.  

“This isn’t an easy course, but there are birdie opportunities out there and we took advantage of them,” CU head coach Anne Kelly said. “Everybody’s happy, but we still left a few shots out there.  That’s what’s great about this team, they look to see where they can improve and get better even after a round like we had today.”

CU’s 11-under par round is the best in school history by two strokes, surpassing a 9-under par 279 the Buffs shot at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic in the fall of 2008, which happened to be Talley’s first round at CU.  It marks CU’s 10th team round under par in school history and eight of those 10 have come in either the Ptarmigan or at CU’s Heather Farr Memorial.  This is just the second under par round the Buffs have shot outside the state of Colorado and it’s the best out-of-state performance by 10 strokes, topping at 1-under 287 at the LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic in March 2009. 

Talley is leading the field and shot her 6-under par 66 despite getting off to a shaky start. After she birdied the first hole, she bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4.  After two pars, she caught fire, shooting seven under par over the final 12 holes to finish the best round of her career.  She has shot 6-under par before, but it was a 67 on a par 73.  She matches classmate Jess Wallace, who shot a 66 on Nov. 1, 2010 at the Alamo Invitational. 

“Emily had a bit of a shaky start,” Kelly said. “But then really got on a roll with her putter and it was going.  She’s a great putter but hasn’t been making them and today they started falling for her.”

“After my first birdie, I was just a little uncomfortable,” Talley added. “I had two bogeys in a row, I just wasn’t being my normal self. On the fourth hole, (assistant coach Brent Franklin) got mad at me, I hit a stupid shot.  He didn’t yell at me or anything, he just turned his back and walked away, but I knew he was mad.  That was my last bogey.  After that I didn’t have another bogey and had seven birdies.  It was fun.”

Talley’s 66 consisted of 30 putts and she had just one three putt and had seven one-putt holes.  It’s her 21st career subpar round and fifth career round in the 60s, both CU records.  She had four straight birdies as she made the turn from hole Nos. 7-10 and her eight birdies in the round match the school record and are one more than her career best.  She lipped out an eagle attempt on No. 18, which would’ve given her a 65. 

“The putting today was awesome and that’s what’s been dragging me down,” Talley said. “I had 30 putts with a 66, that’s pretty good.  I’ve been working on my mental game, trying to concentrate and stay focused.  Your mind set should be to always get more, not be content just getting under par.  I was making the putts that I gave myself, so that was cool.  I only missed one or two putts that were within 10 feet.”

Not to be outmatched, sophomore Alex Stewart shot a 4-under par 68, tied for the ninth best round in school history, and she’s tied for third individually.  She becomes the first CU player with consecutive rounds in the 60s after her 67 in the final round of the Sugar Bowl when she came from eight strokes back and won the tournament two-and-a-half weeks ago. She birdied each of the last two holes to get into the 60s.

“I was hitting the ball well, but I didn’t convert on Par 5s and I missed a few putts,” Stewart said. “Overall I’m happy with my round.  Coach says we do something special if we break a 70.  We’re playing aggressively and with confidence and that’s good.”

She’s just the seventh CU player to have multiple rounds in the 60s in the same season and alongside Talley, they are the first duo in CU history to shoot in the 60s in the same round.  They are just the second duo to go in the 60s in the same tournament, as Talley and Wallace accomplished that feat last season at The Alamo Invitational. 

“Alex was very steady,” Kelly said. “She played another solid round of golf.  I saw her on 16 and she told me she hadn’t birdied any of the Par 5s and that she was going to birdie No. 18 and she went out and did it.  It was funny, she was happy about it.”

Senior Jess Wallace also went under par with a 2-under par 70 and is tied for sixth.  She was 3-under par on the front nine with four birdies and a bogey and after getting a bogey on the No. 10, she pared the last eight holes to remain 2-under for the round. 

“I was hitting it a lot better than I have been the last few months,” Wallace said. “I was giving myself a lot of looks for birdies on the front nine, all four of my birdies were within five feet.  I just couldn’t put the pedal to the meddle on the back nine.”

After setting the CU season record last year with 10 rounds under par, it is Wallace’s second subpar round this season and first of the spring season.  

“It’s just getting past little mental hurdles one at a time,” Wallace said. “It’s good to get a round under par, I feel like I’ve been playing better than I’ve been scoring, so it’s good that it’s at least partially paying off and hopefully I can keep it going and keep getting lower.”

It’s just the fifth time in CU history that three players have shot under par in the same round and it’s the third time that three players have shot 70 or better in the same round.  

Sophomore Jenny Coleman is 1-over par 73 and tied for 18th place.  She got a bogey on her final hole to move over par after holding serve at or under par most of her round.  She had three birdies and four bogeys in her round.  Sophomore Kristin Coleman is tied for 31st at 3-over par 75.  She responded to each of her first two bogeys with a birdie shortly after and then she had three straight bogeys in the final four holes to finish 3-over par.  

“Jess has been progressively getting better this spring, it was nice to see her play well,” Kelly said. “Jenny had a good round and Kristin is really close to breaking through.  She’s been working on her swing, and is right there, you can tell.”

Notre Dame’s Ashley Armstrong is just one stroke behind Talley at 5-under par 67 while Tulsa’s Kristina Merkle is tied with Stewart in third at 4-under par 68.  Just one stroke ahead of Wallace is Furman’s Daffodil Sanchez, who shot a 3-under par 69.  

The second round begins at 9 a.m. MT and the Buffaloes will tee off on the first hole beginning at 8:40 a.m. alongside Notre Dame and Oklahoma.  

“The key for this team is to take things one day and one shot at a time,” Kelly said. “You did what you did today, it’s good or bad, you move on.  After you shoot a great round like we did today, you have to set that aside and focus on the day at hand.”

“We’ll have the same game plan tomorrow,” Stewart added. “We’ll go and do our thing out there.  For me, I’ll try and play the Par 5’s a little better.”

BUFFALOES INDIVIDUALS

1.

Emily Talley

66

t-3.

Alex Stewart

68

t-6.

Jessica Wallace

70

t-18.

Jenny Coleman

73

t-31.

Kristin Coleman

75

 

TOP 5 INDIVIDUALS

1.

Emily Talley, Colorado

66

2.

Ashley Armstrong, Notre Dame

67

t-3.

Alex Stewart, Colorado

68

t-3.

Kristina Merkle, Tulsa

68

5.

Daffodil Sanchez, Texas Tech

69

 

TEAM STANDINGS

1.

Colorado

277

2.

Notre Dame

288

3.

Oklahoma

289

t-4.

Florida International

292

t-4.

Furman

292

6.

Minnesota

293

7.

Tulsa

294

8.

Iowa State

295

9.

Texas Tech

296

10.

SMU

302

11.

Michigan

306

12.

Cincinnati

323