LANDFALL TRADITION NEWS
Landfall Tradition - 1st Round
Streaking San Jose State seizes first-round Landfall Tradition lead; Kuehn, Heath tied atop tight individual leaderboard
Cool temperatures turned raw and steady bone-chilling rain fell late Friday afternoon at the Country Club of Landfall. The conditions and venerable Dye course were no match for a star-powered field, though, in the opening round of the 20th Landfall Tradition.
No. 9 San Jose State - one of the nation’s best teams over the last seven months - fired a 10-under 278 to claim the opening round lead. No. 2 Wake Forest trails by one shot, Florida State is three back and seven teams broke par.
Gusting, swirling winds and a tricky hole location or two didn’t faze the best female college golfers in the nation. Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn and Charlotte Heath of Florida State each toured the 6,125-yard, par-72 layout in 66 shots to share the individual lead.
Kuehn made birdie on five of the first seven holes.
“I got off to a really nice start, knocked some close on the first couple of holes and was able to roll ‘em in,” Kuehn said. “Kinda cooled off a little bit on the back but that’s golf, you’ve got to ride it when you’ve got it and stick it out when you don’t.”
Heath hit 17 greens in regulation, unable to get up-and-down on the par-3 8th for her lone bogey.
“I was putting really well and my coach did a good job reading the greens for me,” Heath said. “I didn’t really have that many long (birdie) putts. I gave myself a lot of opportunities.”
Each player made seven birdies and one bogey but that wasn’t enough to create separation on the leaderboard. Lottie Woad of FSU, Krista Junkkari of UNC and San Jose’s Louisa Calbom each shot 67 on a day when nine players shot 68 or better and 29 broke par.
The day’s most tenacious round belonged to Purdue’s Momo Sugiyama. Despite being stuck in the worst of the cold wind and rain, she shot a sizzling 31 on her final nine to finish with a 68 - her fourth sub-70 round this fall.
Weather conditions typical in Northern California helped San Jose St. feel right at home and climb to the top of the leaderboard, another place where the Spartans have spent most of their time lately.
Last spring they won the Silverado Showdown, Mountain West Conference and Ann Arbor Regional championship in consecutive starts, advanced to match play in the NCAA Championships and ended the season ranked third in the nation.
They sustained the momentum this fall, winning the USF Intercollegiate and finishing runner-up in a strong Stanford Intercollegiate field last week.
Dana Dormann’s team is talented and confident.
“The players who are here know how to win and they’re building on that experience,” the San Jose St. coach said. “They’re striking it well, they can putt. That’s what we like.”
The Spartans created an advantage on the Dye Course’s 10 par-4s, playing them in 9-under, which was eight shots better than any other team. They also led the field with 21 birdies.
Levy leads UNCW
Victoria Levy, the reigning CAA Player of the Week, continued her outstanding fall season, shooting a 2-under 70 to lead UNCW to a solid 294 and 13th place after the opening round.
Levy made five birdies.
“The long game was very consistent, giving myself opportunities all day,” Levy said. “I had some putts that didn’t go in but I hit a lot of greens and was being patient.”
UNCW coach Cindy Ho liked her team’s patience and resilience.
“At the beginning we maybe had some nerves but everyone settled down in the middle of the round and kept fighting,” Ho said. “You have to be patient out there but when you see alot of low scores you know you have to turn it up. Victoria is just solid. She’s so confident right now with her game. Even if something happens she just moves on.”
Fournand hoping to go back-to-back
Nobody loves the Country Club of Landfall Dye course more than South Carolina’s Justine Fournand. To this point, she’d had an indifferent fall season, finishing 36th and 22nd in her two tournament starts. But the defending Landfall Tradition champion found the magic again Friday, firing a 5-under 67 to help the Gamecocks remain in contention for a third consecutive team title.
“I just love the course, I love the people, it’s just so great for me to be here again,” Fournand said. “When everything clicks, I can just go out there and do my thing and that’s what I did.”
Fournand also made seven birdies, including 2s on No. 8 and No. 16.
The field scoring average was 73.85 … The 169-yard par-3 8th was Dye’s most difficult hole playing to a 3.33 stroke average. Golfers who found the left greenside bunker struggled to recover … The par-5 12th, playing directly downwind was the easiest hole, yielding 29 birdies and two eagles. The longer hitters carried the corner bunker with their tee shot setting up a long iron approach shot to the front hole location. UNCW’s Mallory Fobes and Morgan Ketchum, playing together, hit two of the best second shots, producing eagle putts inside 12 feet … 2nd round tee times begin at 8:30 a.m. off the first and 10th tees.