Lady Vols take Bryan Collegiate lead
Popson leads Tennessee with 2-under 70 in opening round
BROWNS SUMMIT, N.C. -- Led by sophomore Erica Popson's 2-under 70, the 14th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol golf team holds a six-shot lead after Friday's first round at the Bryan National Collegiate.
The Lady Vols' fired an even-par 288 total on the first day at the Bryan Park Golf and Enrichment Center - their first par or better round of the spring and fourth of the season. The Big Orange leads host and No. 17 Wake Forest (294) by six strokes, No. 22 North Carolina (295) by seven strokes and No. 7 Virginia (296) by eight strokes. No. 21 Vanderbilt rounds out the top five with a 299 (+11).
Popson, the nation's leader in eagles this season, had a pair of birdies over her first five holes and added another one on her second-to-last hole en route to her seventh par or better round of the season. She is tied for first with Wake Forest's Michelle Shin at 70.
Joining Popson with spectacular even-par 72 rounds were junior All-American Nathalie Mansson and freshman Kaitlyn Rohrback. Mansson had three birdies, while Rohrback tallied four birdies and was to overcome a double-bogey on the front nine. The pair is tied for fourth.
Sophomore Sara Monberg continued her consistent spring stretch with a 2-over 74 to wrap up UT's scoring in a tie for 15th, while freshman Chessey Thomas notched a 4-over 76 and is tied for 33rd.
"We had a good day today," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "It was great to have all five players performing well all day. Erica played well from start to finish, only making one bogey. Both Nathalie and Kaitlyn played well too. They made some key birdies to turn in even-par rounds. Sara had another good score and Chessey played well too.
"The weather was cool, but nice today. We wanted to take advantage of it before bad weather moves in over the next two days."
This is the 11th consecutive season Tennessee has competed at the Bryan National. Last season, the Lady Vols tied for sixth as Mansson placed second individually.
Tennessee's best finish at the tournament came in 2005, when it captured runner-up honors.