Mortellaro leads WAC golf
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 04/15/2011
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MESA, Ariz. - University of Idaho junior Kayla Mortellaro was her standard steady self in taking the first-round lead at the Western Athletic Conference Women's Golf Championship at Longbow Golf Club.

Mortellaro fired a three-under 68 for a four-stroke lead over Nevada's Joyce Chong and San Jose State's Madeleine Ziegert, who are tied at 72.

While Mortellaro steadily made her way around the par-71, 6,121-yard course, her teammates struggled with unsteady putters in combining for a 30-over 314 - still within striking distance of first-day leader Nevada, which is at 301.

"Kayla played great," coach Lisa Johnson said. "She did what she needed to do the first day. She managed the golf course very well. She played smart. Overall, she played well from tee to green."

Mortellaro turned in a scorecard with four birdies and just one bogey.

Championship-tournament jitters hampered Mortellaro's young teammates in the early going. Once those dissipated, the slick greens hampered their putting.

"We didn't play well the first few holes because we didn't manage our nerves well. That's to be expected," said Johnson, whose team includes, along with Mortellaro, one tournament veteran - junior Teo Poplawski, and three newcomers to the league championship - junior Gracie Schory, sophomore Allyssa  Nilsson and freshman Rachel Choi.

While they settled in to play steady golf, what they weren't able to master were slick greens with subtle breaks.

"We didn't do a good job adjusting," Johnson said.

Nevertheless, the Vandals have their sights set on climbing the leaderboard.

"I told them not to be discouraged. It's only the first day," Johnson said. "I told them to go play golf like they know how."

In addition to Mortellaro's 68, Poplawski had an 80 (T23), Choi an 81 (T27), Nilsson an 85 (34) and Schory a 91 (35).

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