The Tennessee women’s golf team finished up their day one performance at the Mercedes-Benz Classic in fourth place out of the 17 teams that are competing. Every team played two rounds on Monday and will play a final round on Tuesday.
Charlotte leads the tournament at +17, Kent State is in second (+19), Maryland sits at +20 and the Lady Vols follow at +22. Rainy weather played a role in the tournament, which is being played at the Par-71 Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville.
“It (weather) definitely made the course a lot tougher,” Tennessee head coach Judi Pavon said. “We practiced out here a lot, but today it was just much more difficult especially the starting holes.”
The Lady Vols are playing host in the two-day annual event, an event which they placed third in last year. They have also finished in the top five of the event every year since 2008, including wins in 2009 and 2010.
Leading the group for the Lady Vols was freshman Mikayla Bardwell, who shot even-par and is tied for second overall. This is the second start of her collegiate career.
“It felt pretty solid,” Bardwell said. “It was very consistent. I didn’t start off too strong, but I kept going.”
Bardwell’s coach is excited to be in contention heading into the final day of the event.
“Our girls were tough and hung in there and we’re still in position where we have a chance tomorrow,” Pavon said.
The Lady Vols will look to build on what they have done well through day one and execute in day two to secure a high place finish.
“They were tough and they didn’t give up,” Pavon said. “They made a lot of mistakes but they bounced back and they stayed mentally strong and finished well.”
The two low scores for the Lady Vols came from Bardwell and sophomore Mariah Smith, who shot 4-over-par. She sits in eighth place overall.
“My tempo in my putting stroke was a little off in the beginning and I had a few three-putts,” Bardwell said. “So, I definitely want to eliminate all three-putts tomorrow.”
The Lady Vols had a very young starting five, including freshman Malia Stovall. It was the first start of Stovall’s career, and she shot 9-over-par.
Sophomore Waverly Whiston also shot 9-over-par and junior Micheala Williams went 15-over-par to round out the first day of the event. Whiston and Stovall are tied for 33rd overall.
The Lady Vols will look to surge up the leaderboard on the final day as they play at a familiar course. Day two of the Mercedes-Benz Classic tees-off on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.