Virginia scoring snafu helps Alabama take Day 1 lead at NCAAs
Sophomore Elizabeth Brightwell's signed scorecard had her for a 71 with a 4 on the par-4 fourth hole. However, Brightwell had actually made a 5 on the hole, a mistake that didn't come to light until the team had eaten lunch and was about to leave the course for the day.
The resulting DQ bumped Virginia from a six-under 282 total to an even-par 288, still the best round the school had ever posted at the national championship thanks to a school-record 66 from first-round individual leader Portland Rosen. Yet the six-stroke swing allowed Alabama to jump atop the leader board by day's end, the Crimson Tide posting a two-under 286 in the afternoon wave to take the lead at NCAAs for the first time in school history.
"I feel bad for Elizabeth and bad for the team," said Virginia coach Kim Lewellen. "We just have to go out there and keep playing."
Alabama coach Mic Potter was pleased to hear his team sat in first after 18 holes, but he was happier that the squad simply put together a solid round overall. Senior Brooke Pancake, who played her first ever golf tournament as a 9 year old on the Legends Club's par-3 course, posted a four-under 66 that tied her for third overall. Sophomore Stephanie Meadow shot a 69 to put her T-5.
Teeing off on the 10th hole to start their rounds, the Crimson Tide got the more difficult back-nine stretch out of the way earlier and felt comfortable knowing they had the par-5 seventh and ninth hole to finish on. Sure enough, the school was six under on those two par-5s.
"They're in love with finishing [on the front side]," Potter said. "We have got to get over that real fast."
The solid start also helps erase some bad memories from last year's NCAA Championship, when Alabama came into the tournament one of the favorites to claim the title only to shoot a 13-over 201. Similarly, rough starts at this year's SEC Championship and the NCAA East Regional raised doubt for an experienced squad that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll.
"You just want something solid the first day. I don't know if it's important to be leading after the first round, you just want to be in position," Potter said. "But you know we've got a comfort level with this golf course that we haven't had in a while. We play here every year [at the Mason Rudolph fall tournament]. It's a litlte bit different, but I think we all like the [course] changes."
Upon hearing of Brightwell's mistake, Potter empathized with Lewellen and the Cavaliers.
"As a coach it scares me to death whenever they walk out of that tent," Potter said. "They just have to be careful. We talk about it all the time."
This is second straight NCAA Women's Championship where a Virginia golfer is leading after 18 holes. A year ago at The Tradition Club in Bryan, Texas, Brittany Altomare held the Day 1 lead with a three-under 69.
This is also the second straight NCAA Women's Championship round where there was a DQ for scoring error. Purdue's Thea Hoffmeister had her final-round score tossed at the 2011 NCAAs when her scorecard had her down for a stroke more than she shot on the 12th hole and a 5 instead of a 6 on the 18th. The final total still added up to a 75, but because she signed a scorecard with a number on a hole that was less than what she shot (the score on 18), she had to be disqualified.