Lexington, S.C. - Sophomore Natalia Villavicencio carded an opening-round score of 4-over par, 76 on Sunday, sitting amidst a tie for 14th-place overall to lead the Western Carolina women's golf team into a tie for seventh after the first round of the Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship at the par-72, 6,159-yard Country Club of Lexington.
Opening on the back nine, Villavicencio started the tournament at 2-under par with birdies on two of her first four holes. However, six-consecutive bogies left the Santiago, Chile, native making the turn to the back nine at 4-over par. On the front nine, Villavicencio charted five pars while countering a pair of bogies with two birdies to finish the day like she made the turn at plus-4. She was poised for a 3-over round until a bogey on the par-4 ninth hole left her shooting 76.
Villavicencio was tied with four other golfers in the field for third with her four birdies. She was also tied for fifth in par-3 scoring at even-par (3.00).
Junior Alyssa Morahan and senior Ashley Thompson are both tied for 35th overall with matching scores of 9-over par, 81. Morahan carded seven pars and a pair of birdies on Sunday -- one on either side -- with Thompson birdying the par-4 third on the front nine to accompany eight pars.
Rounding out WCU's scoring five are junior Amanda Floberg (82) in 38th and senior Bethany Galloway (83) one spot in arrears in 39th. Floberg carded a three birdies on Sunday, but was plus-five on both the front and back nines with three double-bogies on the front and a triple-bogey on the back hindering her progress.
Two-time defending tournament champion, Furman, shot 8-under par, 280, turning in a conference record by four strokes while holding a 20-shot lead over runner-up, Chattanooga after Sunday's first round. Seeking its third-straight title -- and 16th all-time championship overall -- Furman has four players inside the individual top five.
The Paladins' Alice Chen turned in a 3-under 69, tying for first place with teammate Natalie Srinivasan and ETSU's Loy Hee Ying. It is the fourth-straight SoCon tournament round in which Chen has held at least a share of the lead, including all three rounds last year at Savannah Quarters in Pooler, Georgia.
ETSU is third in the team race at 13-over 301 and boasts two players in the top 10, including Loy. Mercer is fourth with a team round of 303 with UNCG in fifth place with a 306. Rounding out the field is Samford (310) in sixth, followed by Western Carolina and Wofford tied for eighth after posting identical scores of 320. The Citadel rounds out the team scoring in ninth at 343.