How low will they go at nationals?
__WILMINGTON, N.C.—__The first shots are in the air as the 29th NCAA Women's Championship has begun at CC of Landfall. Among the more popular questions I've been asked the past couple days is what kind of scores can we expect?
I talked to a some of the coaches yesterday to get a sense of the condition of the Pete Dye course. The cliched consensus is that it's playing tough but fair.
"The course is awesome," said Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen. "They've done a ton of work to get this course in championship shape."
Luellen noted it's playing longer than it did at the NCAA Fall Preview, with the listed yardage at 6,368 compared to 6,325 last October and the wet weather of the last few days making it play even longer. "They've made some adjustments to the par 3s, made a couple of the par 4s longer," said Luellen. "The key is going to be how you play the par 3s. They're pretty tough."
What the coaches are most pleased with is the conditions of the greens. "They're rolling very true," said UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth. "And right now, they aren't so fast that you can be above the hole and it doesn't cause a heart attack."
With the rain having soften the course, the potential for some low numbers early in the tournament—mid-60s—seems high. "I think you can score really well out there," Forsyth said. "I think you're going to see some really good scores and then as the week goes on, I'm sure we're going to see the greens get faster. If it gets to that place you're going to have to really start playing strategically and feel your way around the course more than anything. And if the wind kicks up [by the end of the week], you're going to see people just hand on at that point."
Translation: It might be a good idea to get a quick jump on Tuesday if you want to be in the national championship hunt come Friday's final round.
Meanwhile, I got a little heat for not offering up my prediction yesterday for an individual winner. For those following me on Twitter, I posted late last night that my pick is Oklahoma State's Caroline Hedwall just in case I didn't get this posted before her 8:44 a.m. tee time. Since she's teeing off as I type, I think I'm safe to put in her name. The sophomore finished only T-17 here at the Fall Preview, but I think she's go the goods to step in this big moment.