Midwestern State's Brenna Moore didn't have the best of starts Wednesday morning in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Women's Golf Championship played at the Par-72, 6,193-yard course at The Meadows in Allendale, Michigan.
The senior from Burkburnett shrugged off five strokes worth of bogey and went 3-under over her final 12 holes to card a 74, putting her in prime position tied for fourth at the top of the leader board.
"I was really tense at the beginning. I knew what kind of golf I can play," Moore said. "I was trying too hard and not playing like I know I can. I knew I had to push through the day. From there, I wasn't trying to do anything extraordinary or trying to stay where I was."
Starting on the back nine, Moore took a double bogey on No. 11 and bogeys on Nos. 12, 14 and 15 before producing her first birdie opportunity on the par-4, 376-yard 16th hole.
"Holes 10, 11, 12 and 14 were tough pins and she had trouble judging greens," MSU coach Jeff Ray said. "Then she guided a 9-iron to within 5 feet, but missed the birdie putt on the 15th hole. From there, she played golf."
Moore steadied her game to par the final three holes of the back nine before taking off with a tournament-best 3-under 34 on the front side.
"I definitely tried to make it hard on myself," Moore said. "Every shot with golf changes and I struggled mainly with my putting. You just try to do better on every shot. Once I fixed that, I got my confidence going."
Her pairing with Brittany LaPadula of Limestone College (N.C.) certainly didn't hurt either. The duo were an efficient combination on the front side as LaPadula went 2-under over her final nine and stands on the leader board with a 1-under 71.
Meanwhile, Moore found the short grass with efficiency hitting 11 out of 14 fairways and 15 of the 18 greens in regulation.
"She missed one fairway on the front nine," Ray said. "She was definitely in control of her game. She didn't miss a single green in regulation on the front side either, but the greens are pretty tough. If you miss in the wrong spot, you can put yourself in a situation by not being on the right tier."
Moore knocked in her first birdie of the day on the par-5, 453-yard first hole, and then went back into the red on the sixth and eighth holes.
"She figured out the right speed (on the greens)," Ray said. "She had a good birdie chance from 8-9 feet on the fifth hole, and then had a tap in birdie on the sixth."
Moore followed by striking a wedge approach to within 5 feet on the par-4, 388-yard eighth hole to drop in an uphill putt for her third birdie of the day.
"The course was damp and is a bit long, but Brenna has the game to not let that bother her," Ray said. "She's mentally tough and stuck with it today."
Madison Lellyo of Rollins (Fla.) fired a 2-under 70 to lead the tournament by one stroke ahead of LaPadula while Indianapolis' Annika Haynes is alone in third with a 1-over 73.
Moore is tied with familiar company in fourth with St. Edward's Haley Haught and Tarleton State's Casey Wild.
She is slated to tee off at 9:10 a.m. (Central Time) in Thursday second round. The NCAA Division II Championships features a four-round tournament with single rounds on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
No. 14 Midwestern State made a ton of history Wednesday night in the NCAA Division II Round of 16 at the Surprise (Az.) Racquet and Tennis Complex.
The Mustangs claimed their first win of any kind at the finals, then followed with four more to rout 12th-ranked California (Pa.) 5-1 to move on to Thursday's national quarterfinal round.
Midwestern plays 18th-ranked Southwest Baptist (Mo.), who defeated 47th-ranked Indianapolis (Ind.) 5-1 late Wednesday, at 3 p.m. (Central Time) Thursday.
The Mustangs extended their winning streak to 12 matches against NCAA Division II competition by taking control in doubles play.
Senior Taylor Coffman and junior Kayla Casey combined for an 8-3 win over the 12th-ranked duo of Jesse Burrell and Keifer Shaw at the No. 1 position just before Paige Boykin and Maddie Schorlemmer clinched an 8-2 win over Lena Dimmer and Veronika Mikulis at the No. 3 position.
The Vulcans (15-4) salvaged a victory at the No. 2 position as Ramona Czakon and Mariela Sarinana beat MSU's Lindsay Nochowicz and Lauren Pineda, 8-4.
The Mustangs rode some hot singles to quickly close out the match.
Sophomore Courtney Anderson rolled to her 12th consecutive victory with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 decision over Sarinana at the No. 4 position. Anderson has now won or controlled a lead when the match ended in 25 of her last 26.
Sophomore Paige Boykin extended a similar run closing out Alice Johns 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 5 spot for her 12th-straight victory over an NCAA Division II opponent. She has won or been ahead in each of her last 26 sets against the same foes.
Schorlemmer notched the clincher with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Dimmer at the No. 3 position.
Midwestern claimed wins in the first set of each singles match before California (Pa.)'s Keifer Shaw came back to split with Kayla Casey at No. 1.
Coffman held a 7-5, 1-2 advantage for MSU over Czakon at No. 2, while freshman Carrie Casey was up 6-4, 2-3 over Mikulis at No. 6.
Midwestern State improved to 18-6 on the season.
Midwestern State's Emma Ramirez became the first All-Lone Star Conference outdoor track and field performer as released by league officials Wednesday afternoon.
The senior from Palmdale, Calif. claimed gold in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase last weekend in the LSC Outdoor Track & Field Championships in San Angelo clocking an 11:10.33 to outrun Tarleton State's Tylo Farrar, who claimed second with a time of 11:40.50.
The list of all-conference performers includes the winner of each event at the conference meet, including all members of winning relay teams, plus any athlete who scores at least 14 points at the meet.
In all, 27 men and 28 women were recognized by the all-conference program.
West Texas A&M's Sharon Kwarula claimed the Wes Kittley Award for the outstanding female track athlete, while Tarleton State's Euphemia Edem earned the David Noble Award as the outstanding female field athlete.
Angelo State's James R. Reid earned coach of the year honors.