College Sports

Golf | Duke has clubhouse lead in NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship's first round

EAST MANATEE -- Before the tournament began, patience was the watchword.

With a diabolical layout at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship, a tolerant approach was needed.

Duke women's golf head coach Dan Brooks got that in Friday's weather-shortened first round at The Concession Golf Club.

Play was suspended twice due to inclement weather. The last delay halted action, and players and teams are slated to complete the first round Saturday morning.

The defending national champion Blue Devils produced a 5-over-par 293 total, which saw Leona Maguire (1-under par 71) and Celine Boutier (73) tally the best scores.

That gave Duke a four-shot lead over USC among the teams that finished the first round.

"You're going to be mentally worn out playing here," Brooks said.

Stanford, though, is two shots ahead of the Blue Devils, with junior Mariah Stackhouse's 4-under-par through 12 holes pacing the Cardinal. Stackhouse is the individual leader, one shot ahead of Alabama's Emma Talley, who is 3-under through 15 holes.

Three players are tied for the lead among those who finished the first round after carding 70s.

"We've got a lot of golf left," Stanford head coach Anne Walker said. "Some of these holes coming in are some of the most challenging. So I would say for our first 12 holes, am I happy? Of course. I'm really happy. But it's a long week, there's a lot of golf left. If it was a 12-hole championship, I'd be doing cartwheels, but it's not."

The course, measuring 6,468 yards, was co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin and the name comes from the moment Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Jacklin to produce the first Ryder Cup tie back in 1969.

The Concession features a track with runoff areas for balls to spill off the undulating greens.

"Sometimes you go to a golf course and if you don't get the ball up on the plateau, you get frustrated," Brooks said. "If you ever want to see a good player get frustrated, have a ball run off the plateau where the pin was. ... But if you do that out here, you will be destroyed. Because it's possibly going to do that on every other hole, run off the plateau that you want it to be on. So you can't do that or you are dead. I just think my team was really patient."

Walker said her team has bought into their strategy of not using driver off the tee on the more punishing holes.

"It takes guts for some of my players to stand up there when they know they could thread the needle with the driver and have only a wedge in," Walker said.

Meanwhile, the three players who posted 70s to become clubhouse leaders on the individual side are Arkansas junior Gaby Lopez, South Carolina sophomore Katelyn Dambaugh and USC junior Annie Park.

Lopez said the turning point in her round, which started on the back nine, came when she salvaged par on the 18th.

"It was in the bunker, and I was really close to the lip ... and I knew that it was going to be tough to get it all the way there," said Lopez, who had 27 putts in her round. "But I took my pill, middle of the green and I made a 33-footer for par. I knew it. Since I just marked it, 'This is going to go in. This ball has no option.'"

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