FRANKLIN, T enn . — For all her dramatics on the first day of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship — dramatics that included a pair of eagles on the front nine at the Vanderbilt Legends Club — it was a 25-foot putt for bogey after hitting in the water on the 17th hole that elicited the biggest response from LSU senior Tessa Teachman.
“I’m pretty proud of that bogey,” Teachman said with a genuine smile on her face and an ice bag wrapped tightly around her right wrist after her team-best 3-under 69 Tuesday. She is tied for fifth place.
Teachman’s day encapsulated the first round for the No. 5-ranked Lady Tigers, a round that saw them bolt to the lead with front-nine pyrotechnics only to limp in with a little tape to help them hold things together.
It was a day filled with dramatic scoring swings for many teams, and LSU was no different.
The Lady Tigers went from five back of Virginia to five in front after a Cavalier player was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard to seven back of Alabama at the end of the day with a 5-over 293 that left LSU in a tie for seventh with Purdue.
“I’m exhausted,” Teachman said.
Experience has taught LSU coach Karen Bahnsen — the program’s first signee and a competitor on its first NCAA tournament team in 1982 — to focus on the big picture.
“It’s a four-day tournament,” said Bahnsen, LSU’s coach for 28 seasons. “We gave away a few strokes at the end that we didn’t need to, but seven shots is nothing in team golf. That’s one or two holes.”
Teachman turned in 5-under 31, opening her front nine by holing out a wedge from 117 yards on the par-4 first hole and closing it by reaching the par-5 ninth in two and draining the putt.
“The back nine was more of a struggle,” said Teachman, who aggravated an old wrist injury on the 12th hole. “I sort of lost my tempo and got fatigued.”
Still, the former University High standout is tied for fifth after shooting what ties for the fourth-lowest NCAA Championship round in program history.
Freshman Madeline Sagstrom made an impressive NCAA debut with a 2-under 70 despite complaining of trouble with the Legend Club’s increasingly harder and faster greens, which were converted from bent grass to a hybrid strain of Bermuda in August.
Sophomore Lindsey Gahm, a former Indiana transfer also playing in her first NCAA tournament, shot a 76. Jacqueline Hedwall fought a losing battle with the greens, requiring 41 putts to get home in a round of 83 that tied the highest score turned in Tuesday.
Meanwhile, defending champion Austin Ernst got off to a rocky start as well. The LSU sophomore’s drive leaked right into the lake that stalks the fairway on the par-5 18th. She then compounded the damage by three-putting for a double bogey that left her at 6-over 78.
“She didn’t make any putts today,” Bahnsen said. “She definitely felt some pressure. As we know, she shot a 77 last year and came back with a couple of 66s. All this (round) did was make her mad.”
Virginia had reason to be mad after losing the team lead when sophomore Elizabeth Brightwell signed for a 71 that was actually a 72.
By rule, Brightwell was disqualified from the individual competition, although her score can still count toward the Cavaliers’ team total the rest of the tournament.
If Brightwell had signed for a 72, Virginia would have had the team lead at 5-under 283. As it was the Cavaliers had to count a 77 from Briana Mao, a score that virtually offset the tournament-leading 66 shot by Virginia’s Portland Rosen.
Rosen was the first player to tee off Tuesday morning and her score held up all day. She has a one-stroke lead over Purdue’s Laura Gonzalez and a two-stroke lead over Alabama’s Brooke Pancake and Catherine O’Donnell of North Carolina.
“I feel bad for Elizabeth and bad for the team,” UVA coach Kim Lewellen said. “We just have to go out there and keep playing.”
The disqualification put Virginia at even par 288, two strokes back of Alabama.
“I feel bad for” Virginia, said Alabama coach Mic Potter. “They’re a great group of kids. As a coach, you’re scared to death when they walk out of that scorer’s tent.”
Alabama teed off on the 10th hole and finished on the easier front nine, something LSU hopes will work to its advantage in Wednesday’s second round.
“I like to hunt,” Sagstrom said. “It’s easier to hunt than to be chased. It makes us want it even more.”
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