TUCSON, Ariz.—The No. 23 University of Colorado women’s golf team got its spring season underway Sunday as the Buffaloes sit tied for fifth place at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational after shooting a first-round 13-over par 301 here at the par 72, 6,321-yard Vistoso Golf Club.
The top seven consists of teams ranked in the top 44 nationally as host and No. 22 Arizona lead the field with a 3-under par 285, followed by top-ranked UCLA in second place four strokes back at 1-over par 289. No. 8 Arizona State is right in the mix, another two strokes back at 3-over par 291. No. 44 New Mexico is in fourth place at 12-over par 300 while both the Buffaloes and No. 40 Denver sit tied for fifth at 13-over par 301. No. 41 Stanford is in seventh at 17-over par 305.
“To be honest, we’re a little rusty,” CU coach Anne Kelly said. “Some of them struggled putting. That’s the hardest thing, for us to be sharp in the first tournament of the spring. It’s hard for us to get putting going on the winter greens.”
Senior Emily Talley and sophomore Jenny Coleman led the way for the Buffaloes, with Coleman shooting even par 72, good for seventh individually, while Talley was one stroke back at 1-over par 73, tied for ninth place. Coleman stayed right around even par most of her round and pared out the last seven holes of her round to maintain the score. She had a bogey on her third hole and then birdied her fifth to get back to even par. She then went 1-under par on her ninth hole of the day and then got a bogey on her 11th hole to come back to even par where she remained throughout.
“Jenny played really solid,” Kelly said. “I was really happy with a lot of the things I saw. Overall, everybody hit the ball well. It’s just a matter of getting the feel with the putter and getting the competitive confidence back.”
Talley was playing between 1- and 3-over most of the round and fought her way back to 1-over par with birdies on two of her final four holes. She finished the day with four birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey with 10 pars to finish at plus one.
Senior Jessica Wallace finished at 4-over par 76 and is tied for 32nd and had a slight hick-up near the end of her round with two bogeys in the final three holes. She started her round off with a pair of bogeys and then eagled her third hole, the Par 5 No. 12, to pull back to even par. She then played the next 11 holes at 2-over with nine pars and two bogeys before the final stretch.
“Jess struggled with her putting, as did Emily,” Kelly said. “Both hit the ball well. Emily fought her way back, she got her rhythm going and some confidence. The shots will start falling again.”
Sophomores Alex Stewart and Kristin Coleman both struggled a bit and finished their rounds at 8-over par 80 and are tied for 56th place. Kristin Coleman played her first 11 holes at 1-over par with two birdies and three bogeys and then had a stretch of five holes with three bogeys to sit at 4-over par with two holes remaining. She then got an eight on the Par 4 No. 8, her 17th hole of the day, but rebounded to par her final hole to sit at 8-over.
Stewart had a bogey and birdie in her first three holes of the round to sit at even par but then had five bogeys on the next six holes to close out her front nine at 5-over par. She started her back nine with a birdie to pull back to 4-over par but had two double bogeys in a stretch of three holes to sit a 8-over par with four holes left before she pared out.
“This first round, again, we’ll get it all back but there’s just some rust to get off,” Kelly said. “Alex just had a bad day and Kristin had it going on her front nine and then had one disaster hole on her back nine. For Alex, I’m sure she’ll come back strong in the next few days.”
The Wildcats are taking advantage of playing on their home course with the team lead and they also have two golfers under par, including Manon Gidali, who leads the field after shooting a 5-under par 67. Denver’s Kelly Drack is second at 3-under par 69 while UCLA’s Lee Lopez, ranked the No. 11 player nationally, is third at 2-under par 70. The Wildcats Margarita Ramos along with Arizona State’s Laura Blanco and UCLA’s Erynne Lee, the ninth-ranked player nationally, all sit tied for fourth at 1-under par 71.
The Buffs get back to action for the second round starting Monday at 8 a.m. for the second round with the competition concluding on Tuesday.
“Nothing can simulate what we need to do except getting back in the saddle,” Kelly said. “That’s why it’s even more exciting for me knowing we’ll have the indoor facility soon, that will benefit our short games. Coming off winter break, then preparing. We’ve had decent weather, but it’s hard to have a sharp short game early in the spring.
“It’s beautiful weather here, it’s nice to see green grass,” Kelly continued. “To be out playing again, everybody is excited to be competing again and ready to get back at it tomorrow.”