GREENVILLE, Tenn. --- California Baptist University, looking for its first-ever national championship in its final season in the NAIA, has the early lead in a rain-shortened first round at the 2011 NAIA Women's Golf National Championships.
The 72-hole tournament is being played at the Link Hills Golf and Country Club (Par 73 - 6170 yards) in Greeneville, Tenn.
The second-ranked Lancers were one of 12 teams, just the half field, to complete their round. Steady rains forced a lengthy delay of more than four hours right in the middle of their round. The Lancers teed off at 8:50 a.m. (EDT) and then didn't finish until after 6 p.m.
CBU took the lead in the clubhouse among the morning pairings with a 319 to go +27, leading defending champion and No. 3 British Columbia by two strokes. No. 9 Northwood (Fla.) finished with a 323 (+31). Top-ranked Shorter (Ga.) is seven strokes behind with a +34, 326.
"It's always good to have the lead, because that means somebody has to catch you," said CBU Head Coach Lane Pace. "It's also a positive to be leading despite the conditions, and each day the conditions are supposed to get a little better than they were today."
Defending national champion Nathalie Silva shot an opening round 76 (3-over) and is tied for third with teammate and two-time NAIA All-American Adriana Niclotti, who also shot a 76. Silva and Niclotti trail UBC's Kylie Barros by just three strokes after 18 holes. Barros went -2 (34) on the back nine to finish her round at even-par 73.
Silva began her day in the best way possible with an eagle on the opening hole. She then had a pair of bogeys to go out at an even 37. Her back nine started nearly as good as her front nine when she birdied the 10th hole to get back to one-under. However, three straight bogies on 14, 15 and 16 after the lengthy delay, put her back over par, but she was able to recover and finish with back-to-back pars.
In fact, as the Lancers were 11 over after 11 holes, but after the delay, they played the final seven holes at 16 over.
"The delay affected us a little bit, but it affected everybody," said Pace. "The conditions were just brutal. The setup of the course is hard, and then you add in the rain, cold and wet grounds, and that makes it even longer and more difficult."
Niclotti bogeyed two of her first three holes but then got back to even with birdies and eight and 10. She then bogeyed three of her final five holes after the delay to finish with her 76.
Samantha Katz carded an 83, recovering nicely from a triple bogey and double bogey on 14 and 15, respectively, with birdies at 16 and 17 to finish 10-over. Sara Koizumi birdied 10 to highlight her round of 84, which is +11. She, too, recovered nicely with pars on the final three holes after consecutive double-bogeys at 12 and 13 and another at 15.
Kirsten Keyser finished with a 92 (+19) in her first-ever national tournament round.
The remaining 23 pairings will resume play at 7 a.m. at the hole they left off after play was suspended because of darkness. The second round will being approximately 20 minutes following the completion of the first round.
CBU is originally scheduled to tee off at 1 p.m. (EDT), but that could be pushed back depending on when the first round is actually completed. It is expected to rain for most of the day Wednesday and possibly decreasing later in the afternoon.