Stockbridge, Ga. - Fresh off collecting her first collegiate individual medalist honors last week, Western Carolina freshman Maddi Caldwell matched her career-low round of 1-over par, 73, on Sunday to sit in a tie for 10th overall, leading the Catamounts at the John Kirk / Panther Intercollegiate.
Enduring a 75-minute delay for lightning and rain on Sunday, WCU shot an opening round 303 collectively as a team to sit in a two-way tie for seventh at the par-72, 6,033-yard Eagle's Landing Country Club.
Caldwell countered three bogies with two birdies with 13 pars including five-consecutive to conclude the round on Sunday to match her best 18-hole round as a collegian. Bogies on the par-4 second and par-5 sixth with a birdie on the par-5 third left the Dawsonville, Ga., product making the turn to the back nine at 1-over par. A third bogey on the par-3 No. 11 moved her to 2-over par, but Caldwell rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 13th before closing the round with the five-straight pars.
On the strength of a tournament first round-best 15 pars, senior Mariah Hopkins sits in a tie for 27th after shooting 4-over par, 76. The Greensboro, N.C., product has two bogeys and one double-bogey as the only blemishes on the otherwise clean scorecard through 18 holes.
Senior Kim Mitchell and junior Bethany Galloway are both amidst a tie for 32nd after the first round, shooting 5-over par, 77, while junior Ashley Thompson is a stroke back at 78, sitting in a tie for 40th. Galloway countered a pair of double bogies and two bogies with one birdie on Sunday, finishing tied for the tournament lead in par-3 scoring at 1-under (2.75). Mitchell birdied twice against six scores over par in her respective round, while Thompson birdied once on Sunday.
Playing unattached as an individual, freshman Natalia Villavicencio is off to a solid start after shooting 2-over par, 74, to sit in a tie for 16th overall. The Santiago, Chile, product opened on the back nine with a birdie, carrying the 1-under score until a double-bogey on her eighth hole -- the par-4 17th -- which left her turning to the front nine at 1-over. On the front nine, Villavicencio had two bogies with a second birdie for the 2-over round.
With matching first-round team scores of 5-over par, 293, Elon and Western Kentucky share the top of the leader board after 18 holes of competition. Eastern Kentucky is two strokes in arrears at 295 in third, followed by Florida Gulf Coast (297), and a two-way tie between Western Michigan and CSU Fullerton tied for fifth at 301.
Elon teammates Emily Brooks and Kelsey Badmaev posted matching rounds of 1-under par, 71, on Sunday to share the individual lead ahead of a seven-way tie for third at even-par, 72.
Paired with golfers from South Alabama and rival Appalachian State, Western Carolina's scoring five hits the course off the front nine with tee-times starting at 8:30 am. Villavicencio will tee off on the back nine beginning at 9:06 am. Live scoring is available online at GolfStatResults.com.