Originally published May 22, 2018 at 10:11p.m.
Updated May 23, 2018 at 06:05a.m.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Defending national runner-up Embry-Riddle stood in a tie for eighth place out of 30 teams after a rainy first round at the NAIA Women’s Golf Championship Tuesday on PGA National’s 5,847-yard, par-72 Champion Course.
The four-round national tournament continues at 10:30 a.m. today, May 23, for the five-member Eagles team, which fired a total of 319 (+31) on Day 1. No. 1-ranked Savannah Art & Design of Georgia held a firm grip on first place by nine strokes, compiling a 300 (+12) heading into the second round.
ERAU needs to make up 10 strokes to get into second place, which coach Kim Haddow said is “definitely doable.” The Top 17 teams make the cut following round two.
Individually for Cal-Pac Conference champion and No. 13 Embry-Riddle, defending national runner-up Jessica Williams led the way, tallying a 77 (+5) in the first round. The sophomore entered Wednesday tied for 17th out of 157 golfers. Williams managed a +2 until the par-5 17th hole, which she double bogeyed.
“We all learned a lot [Tuesday] to keep going forward,” Williams said. “We all played solid. We didn’t let the conditions of the wind and the rain, and the wet course, affect us. We all liked the course, and we’re excited to be playing on the Champion Course.”
Holes 15, 16 and 17 are known as “The Bear Trap.”
“We played those holes really well [Tuesday],” Haddow said. “We gained strokes on the field [Tuesday] on The Bear Trap. But I’m sad for Jessica because she struggled on 17. All in all, she had a solid round.”
Wednesday’s forecast in Florida called for an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms, potentially threatening second-round play. Several inches of rain have already fallen, making conditions challenging.
“They’ve had more rain in one week than they have in an entire year in Florida,” Haddow said. “I’m just glad that we all got to play. They felt that the course was playable. Rain’s not going to bother us. There was no lightning or thunder, so we were fine.”
Elle Carlson (T-35th with a 79, +7), Trae Jones (T-58th with an 81, +9), Megan Hessil (T-71st with an 82, +10) and Nicole Lopes (T-119th with an 87, +15) followed for the Eagles.
“We’ve learned to be patient with our putts and our short game, and if we do that, then we’ll stay in it,” Williams said.
Three Savannah Art & Design golfers were in the Top 10 going into the second round, including Corinne Grans-Wood in first place (72, E), Paulina Camacho in a tie for fifth (74, +2) and Maria Paula Otero in a tie for ninth (75, +3).
“We are confident, and we know we can pick up a few strokes going out,” Haddow said. “We’ve got the front 9 that we can make up some strokes later on. If we’re patient and do what we did [Tuesday] and trust our shots, and our shots into the green in our distances, we’re going to be able to elevate the ball and put it on the green where we need to.”
Following today’s second round, the 2018 NAIA Women’s Golf Championship concludes with the third round on Thursday, May 24, and the fourth and final round on Friday, May 25, at PGA National.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.