Although they’re not in the driver’s seat, the Tennessee women’s golf team are in a good place after Friday’s first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
The Lady Vols shot a 1-over-par 285 at Cherokee Country Club, good for fourth place. The Lady Vols are six strokes behind leader South Carolina.
“I thought that we had a pretty good day,” Tennessee coach Judi Pavon said in a school release. “We did a really good job on the holes that we had talked about ... focusing on and playing conservatively and making pars. So I was really happy with that.”
In her second collegiate start, UT freshman Hannah Pietila had five birdies and shot a 2-under 69. Senior Chessey Thomas shot a 70. Pietila is tied for third in the individual standings while Thomas is tied for eighth.
The Lady Vols recorded 19 birdies and might have been in better shape if they hadn’t struggled on the seventh hole, where they were 6 over as a team. Lucia Polo shot 72 and is tied for 19th, A.J. Newell shot 74 and is tied for 44th and Mason Chen is at 76 and tied for 62nd. Emmie Pietila shot 72, but is playing as an individual.
“I was really happy with today,” Pavon said. “We just wanted to be in position to have a chance to win after the first day instead of having to worry about digging ourselves out of a hole. So I thought we did a great job with that.”
On Saturday, Tennessee will tee off at 9:30 a.m. from the first tee box. The Lady Vols will be paired with UCF and Tulane.
Central Florida’s Fanny Cnops and South Carolina’s Katelyn Dambaugh were the top individuals, shooting 68. Dambaugh secured her place atop the leaderboard with an eagle on the 18th hole.
Mississippi State’s Mary L. Gallagher, who shot a 75, is the daughter of former Tennessee men’s golf standout Jim Gallagher Jr.