The first round of the 2010 Winthrop Intercollegiate had a decidedly Big South Conference feel. Four of the top five team scores in the women's golf tournament at Rock Hill Country Club belong to Big South schools.
The Radford Highlanders hold a four-stroke lead over Gardner-Webb. Winthrop is in third place, eight strokes off the pace. Presbyterian is in fifth, 13 strokes back.
The Highlanders were led by Jade Okamoto who fired an opening round 73, good for 1-over par. Gardner-Webb's Sammy Vass also shot a 73.
The final round of the tournament is today.
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The hosting Winthrop Eagles were led by Danielle Dunnagan's 74. Kayla Cline turned in a 75 and Katie Bolling carded a 79. Allison Itria finished with an 81.
Winthrop coach Jodi Wendt felt fortunate to be in contention after the first round.
"We have to have four scores in the 70s," she said. "We'll do better (Sunday). We always play better the second day in this tournament."
Dunnagan, a sophomore from Lexington, has led the team in each of the team's first two tourneys this season. Her round was full of ups and downs.
At the par-4 fourth hole, her wedge shot into the green scorched the flag atop the pin. The ball settled about four feet from the hole in position for an easy birdie. Instead she headed to the fifth tee box with a bogey after three putts.
Dunnagan came back with a birdie at No. 5 and pitched in to save par at the eighth hole. She ran into trouble off the tee at No. 11 but finished out nicely by draining a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th to pull within a stroke of the leaders.
Cline, a junior from Socorro, New Mexico, said the wind played a factor on Saturday. She said she played two clubs up on some holes on the back nine.
At the par-5 13th Cline's approach shot left her 20-25 feet left of the hole. She seemed upset after hitting her putt, but the ball curled into the cup for a birdie.
"I thought I misread it, but it went in," Cline said. She admitted to a few mistakes on Saturday, enough that she could be leading the tournament. She will try to eliminate those miscues today.
Bolling, a junior from New Brighton, Minn., said there is some added pressure to hosting a tournament.
"I think the members expect you to do well, especially after the last two years when we finished second," Bolling said.
Bolling was one of many who applauded the move to hold the tournament in the fall this year. The event had been held in the spring for eight years.
"The course is in good shape and its warm," she said. "This course, in the fall, is green and luscious."
Former Fort Mill High standout Amanda Hall shot a 79 for USC Upstate. This is her third collegiate event. She said she loves playing golf at the college level but found out quickly she'd need to adapt to longer courses. She is carrying a 3-wood now to compensate for the added distance.