LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Junior Taylor Klutts fired an even-par 72 to stand fifth individually after the opening round of the NCAA Division II Women's Super Regional 4 Golf Championships on Sunday.
Klutts led a late round surge for the Mustangs who sit in a tie for sixth as a team after first of three rounds at the Wigwam Resort's par 72, 6,191 yard Heritage Course.
Playing in their first NCAA Tournament as a team, the 16th ranked Mustangs stumbled out of the gate, but answered the bell late to post a 306 in the first round. The mark is 15 strokes behind leader Tarleton State at 291, 14 behind St. Edward's in second at 292 and 10 behind host Grand Canyon at 296.
"We didn't play well as a team, but we didn't play badly," said MSU Coach Jeff Ray. "We struggled, but our history is to come back strong after we have this kind of round."
Klutts performance overall was the key to the Mustangs round.
After opening with a bogey on the first hole, Klutts picked up two shots with birdies at 8 and 9 to go 1-under at the turn.
But on the 10th, Klutts pulled her tee shot left to go out-of-bounds and suffered a double bogie and followed it with a bogie on 11.
Klutts roared back with pars on the next five holes and finished strong with birdies on 17 and 18.
"Taylor played great the last seven holes," said Ray. "Her birdies on 17 and 18 were great. Those are the hardest holes on the golf course."
Mustangs freshman Brenna Moore and junior Kendra Whittley struggled. Moore carded a 6-over-78 and Whittley a 7-over-79 in the opening 18.
"Brenna had a hard time with the putter," Ray said. "She hit 14 of 18 greens, but struggled getting up and down. Kendra did a great job on the greens, just struggled to get there."
Juniors Lauren Romines and Lindsay Burkhart both shot 6-over-78 for MSU to join Moore in a tie for 28th. Romines strong day was tempered with a double bogie on 18.
"This is great competition and we've got play our best every time out in regional play," Ray added.
The nine-team field features eight of Golfstat's top 25 teams.
The second round is Monday, with the Mustangs set to tee off at 10:40 Central Time.