Spartanburg, S.C. - With three golfers inside the top 10 including overall leader in sophomore Natalia Villavicencio, Western Carolina leads the field at the midway point of the Terrier Intercollegiate. The Catamounts posted a season-best team round of 296 to hold a four-stroke lead over second-place Georgia Southern at the par-72, 6,012-yard Country Club of Spartanburg.
Villavicencio carded her career-low round on Monday, pacing the field with a 2-under par round of 70 to open play. The second-year striker from Santiago, Chile, countered two bogies and one double-bogey with a tournament-leading six birdies including four-consecutive between holes No. 2 through No. 5 after the turn. She holds a two-stroke edge over second-place Iben Hvass of Georgia Southern who shot even-par, 72.
Opening on the back nine, Villavicencio erased back-to-back bogies on the first two holes with a pair of birdies to turn to the front nine at even-par. A double-bogey on the par-5 first hole left her 2-over with eight holes to play. Her incredible streak of four-straight birdies started on the par-4 second and left her at 2-under par three holes later. Villavicencio came to the clubhouse with four-straight pars to conclude the round leading the 62-golfer field.
Senior Ashley Thompson posted a season-low round of 2-over par, 74, to sit amidst a two-way tie for fourth after 18 holes. Thompson, a local product from Clyde, N.C., birdied twice against four bogies while posting 12 pars. Two bogies through her first four holes were countered with a pair of birdies as Thompson turned to the front nine even. Back-to-back bogies on the par-3 third and par-4 fourth relegated her to two-over par, closing the round with five-consecutive pars.
Thompson leads the field in par-5 scoring at 2-under (4.50).
A second WCU senior, Bethany Galloway, rallied from a sluggish start to finish the opening day among a six-way tie for sixth place. Galloway was four-over par just five holes into Monday's round, making the turn at 3-over after a birdie on the par-4 16th. On the front nine, the Charlotte native finished even-par with seven pars against both a bogey and a birdie to shoot 3-over, 75.
Rounding out the Catamount scoring five were transfers Amanda Floberg and Alyssa Morahan, both tied for 21st overall with matching scores of 5-over par, 77. Floberg countered seven holes over-par with a trio of birdies while Morahan had a somewhat quiet round, carding 12 pars against four bogies, a double-bogey and a birdie.
Making her collegiate debut as an unattached individual, Brianna Plummer shot 85 on Monday to sit in a tie for 55th overall. The Shelby, N.C., product birdied her first collegiate hole on the par-4 10th to open her first round.
First-round leader WCU was the only team to break the 300 team score barrier on Monday, doing so by four strokes with the first round 296. GSU is second at 300, with another former league foe, Appalachian State, in third at 303. The tournament-host Wofford Terriers sit in fourth place at 305 with Winthrop rounding out the top five of the 10-team field at 309.
The final round is scheduled for Tuesday with a 10:00 am shotgun start. Paired with golfers from Presbyterian and USC Upstate, WCU's scoring five will tee off on the back nine. Live scoring is available online at www.BirdieFire.com.