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Western Carolina Leads Great Smokies Intercollegiate

WCU senior Blaire Minter matched her career-low round of 70 on Monday to stand in a three-way tie for third at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

Sept. 19, 2011

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Waynesville, N.C. - Paced by freshman Sofie Kvarnstrom's career-best round of three-under 69 on Monday, Western Carolina is in the clubhouse with a pair of golfers inside the top five to lead the 23-team field after 18 holes at the 13th annual Great Smokies Intercollegiate being played at the par-72, 5,932-yard Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort and Spa.

Monday's opening round of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate seemed more like a preview of coming attractions for women's golf over the next four years as four of the top five individuals in the field after 18 holes are freshmen.

Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe rookie Jennifer Park broke her school's individual single-round scoring record with a four-under, 68, to pace the 124-golfer field by a stroke over WCU's Kvarnstrom. UNCG's Fanny Cnops and Jacksonville's Jessica Welch - both freshmen - are tied with Catamount senior Blaire Minter for third place after shooting two-under 70 to round out the top five.

Defending individual medalist - Jamie Ritter from UAB - is amidst a group of 10 tied for 13th overall at one-over, 73.

Minter - the lone upper classman in the individual top five after the first round - is one-stroke in arrears of Kvarnstrom in the three-way tie for third after matching her career-low round of 70 as Western Carolina hold a slim, one-stroke advantage over ULM in second place. Posting a school-record round, Eastern Kentucky is tied with Jacksonville for third at 292 with UNC Greensboro and South Carolina State both tied for fifth at 294 to round out the top five teams.

Other notables include USC Upstate which set a school-record low round of 297 in eighth place and SoCon-rival Appalachian State in a three-way tie for 12th. Two-time Great Smokies Intercollegiate team champion, Tennessee Tech, stands in a two-way tie for 17th.

All told, a combined seven teams are within five strokes of the tournament team lead entering the final round which gets under way with a shotgun start at 9:00 am on Tuesday morning.

Teams were greeted with fall-like temperatures and a low cloud ceiling on Monday morning which gave way to mostly sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures by the afternoon. Competitors dodged the forecasted 30-percent chance of showers all day on Monday, and will hope for more of the same good luck to avoid the 50-percent chance of rain predicted for Tuesday in Western North Carolina.

For WCU, Minter posted par on 15 of the 18 holes on Monday to lead all competitors, while also carding an Eagle for the Catamounts during opening round play. Kvarnstrom and senior Rachel Nelson recorded par on 13 holes through the opening round for WCU. Nelson carded two-over 74 on Monday to stand tied with 16 others for 23rd place in the individual standings.

Rounding out WCU's scoring were freshman Katy Kile, tied for 58th at five-over 77 in her first-ever collegiate event, and junior transfer Michelle Bello tied for 90th with an opening-round 80.

Playing unattached as individuals, freshman Maria Kjelldorff posted an opening round score of 78 to stand tied for 74th overall in her first collegiate event , while senior Christina Amoriello shot a career-low of 81 to be tied for 103rd overall after the first round.

Great Smokies Intercollegiate Round One Notes:
- Western Carolina's opening team round of 290 is tied for the 18th-best, single-round in tournament history, matching the 2008 second round score turned in by Wofford College and the 2005 score in which WCU shot on the second 18 holes back in 2005;

- USC Upstate posted a school, single-round record score of 297 to stand in eighth place after the opening round, just seven strokes off the tournament pace ... Also posting a school-record 18-hole team score was Eastern Kentucky which shot 292 on Monday;

- First round leader - ULM's Jennifer Park - matched the sixth-lowest single-round score in tournament history with her opening round four-under, 68, on Monday ... Park, a true freshman playing in her first collegiate event, also broke ULM's individual low 18-hole record with her 68 in the first round ... The previous record was 69 held by former ULM stand-out Angela Drane, who shot that total three times in her career;

- Six individuals carded scores under-par over the opening 18 holes;

- ULM's 291 is the lowest 18-hole team score in the history of the program, breaking the previous record by six strokes ... ULM has shot 297 three times previously, the last being at the Troy Women's Invitational in 2009;

- Jacksonville's Jessica Welch (t-3rd) opening round score of 70 is tied for the Dolphins' second-lowest single-round in school history;

- UNC Greensboro paced the tournament field with 20 birdies and a pair of Eagles through the opening 18 holes ... Fanny Cnops was tied for the tournament lead with seven birdies for the Spartans ... UNCG also shot a tourney-leading, 12-under on the par-5 holes over the opening 18 holes.