KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Charleston Southern turned in a strong 12-over par effort in Sunday's opening round of the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic at Osprey Point Golf Club. The Bucs are tied for ninth place in the 43-team field, just six strokes back of a three-way tie for fifth.
CSU junior Hayley McNeill, who earned the No. 1 spot in the lineup thanks to stellar preseason qualifying rounds, carded a one-over par 73 to lead the way. McNeill is tied for 24th place following a steady showing in which she posted ten pars and a birdie over her final 11 holes. Senior Hannah Barger (T-34th – 74 (+2)) and junior Emelie Flink (T-53rd – 75 (+3)) also helped coach Matt Cram-Smith's Bucs stay in the hunt with still 36 more holes to play Monday and Tuesday.
Jacksonville finished at two-under 286 to take the day one lead. Host College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina are just three shots behind in a tie for second. Southern Miss is alone in fourth at two-over par. CSU is within striking distance of the three-way tie for fifth between East Tennessee State, Richmond and St. John's.
Jacksonville's Louise Persson and Saskia Sterud of St. John's are tied for the individual lead at four-under par. Only fifteen players in the field of 232 players, the largest in collegiate golf, are under par.
CSU tees off its second round Tuesday at 9:05 on Kiawah Island's Oak Point Golf Club. The Bucs will play alongside Jacksonville State and individuals from several schools.
McNeill was around the hole all day, continuing the excellent putting she has displayed throughout the spring. She got birdie putts to drop at the par-four 14th and 7th holes, with the latter helping her get into red numbers on the front nine.
Barger recorded one of her better rounds of the season, dating back to the fall, with a 74. She had a birdie on each nine to help mitigate the impact of four total bogeys. Flink tallied the best nine of the day for the Bucs, racking up a two-under 34 on the front nine. She bounced back from a double bogey and three bogeys on the back nine to post a clean front nine that featured birdies at numbers seven and eight.
Natthakan Teeratrakul (T-95th – 78 (+6)) and Shelby Thompson (T-121st – 80 (+8)) were the other players in CSU's lineup. Savannah Hallman (T-95th – 78 (+6)) and Milleina Ohara (T-141st – 81 (+9)) competed as individuals.