|Vandals in third after first round|
Senior Kayla Mortellaro had a couple hiccups in her opening round of the Western Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Championship Tournament but she came back with the steady and spectacular to head into the second 18 in second and just two strokes off the first-day total of Hawai`i’s Charlee Kapiioho.
Mortellaro’s round – combined with that of fellow senior Teo Poplawski, freshman Leilanie Kim and sophomore Rachel Choi, put the Vandals in third at 301 with 36 holes to play. San Jose State leads after the first round with a 291 with Hawai`i second at 299. New Mexico State is at 302 with Fresno State (305) and Nevada (319) rounding out the field.
"We're still very much in the hunt," coach Lisa Johnson said. "Overall, the team is upbeat and excited for the next two rounds. As always, though, we want to play it one shot at a time."
Mortellaro parred her first hole before a double bogey on the second. She finished the front nine with two birdies and five pars to make the turn at even-par 36. After a bogey to start the back nine, she had a run of three pars before a birdie on the par-4 14th and an eagle on the par-5 15th dropped her to two under, which is where she stayed through the final three holes.
Johnson said the course can favor long hitters and that the Vandals didn't necessarily have their best ball striking day of the season.
"They did a good job of staying positive and grinding out their rounds from some very challenging situations," Johnson said. "I'm very impressed with how Kayla played - especially on the back nine."
Johnson also lauded the play of Poplawski and Choi, who had two eagle opportunities after reaching the par-5s in two.
Poplawski finished the day at three-over 75, which came via a five-bogey, two-birdie round. Kim had an up-and-down round, which included two double bogeys but three birdies en route to her 77. Choi had a similar round with two doubles, two birdies and five bogeys on her way to a 79. Kaitlyn Oster rounded out the team for the Vandals with an 82, which was the result of 10 bogeys during the course of her 18 holes.
Tournament scoring is available live at: http://www.golfstatresults.com//public/leaderboards/team/static/team_players_3077.html.