BRYAN, Texas – Behind a one-under-par 71 from senior Glory Yang, the UCLA Bruins ended the first day of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship  one-over-par with a two-shot lead on surprising second-place occupant, Virginia.

UVa
Altomare

On a warm, windy day at Traditions Club, the course lived up to its billing as a shotmakers course almost from the outset as several teams found pitfalls, particularly on the back nine.

“We got out to the back nine and it was really windy,” said UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth. “We were lucky enough to get some birdies on the front, and then once we got to the back, we started thinking that sometimes you just have to get bogey and move on – and that’s what we did.”

For Yang, it was a birdie on the first hole that started her on her way.

“I was so nervous getting started, ya know, it’s the nationals and it’s my senior year and I was really nervous,” Yang said. “But I made par on the first hole, then I made a long birdie putt on the second hole and that kind of got me started.”

From there, Yang also made birdies on both seven and eight and then made nothing but pars on the infamous back nine.

“I love this course,” Yang said. “With this wind, it’s a lot more challenging.”

One person that really loved the course Wednesday was Virginia sophomore Brittany Altomare. After going five under on the back nine- which was her first nine Wednesday, Altomare finished the opening round at 3-under-par 69 to take the lead in the medalist chase.

“I was just in a groove,” Altomare said. “Every shot I mad, it went in. I really don’t even know what happened. I would see a shot, and then I would make it.”

CALMER THAN CALM

For a college junior, Marta Silva Zamora, playing as an individual in this year’s championships for the University of Georgia, has a resume that is not only impressive, but equally diverse. She’s the top-ranked female player in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin poll and the reigning SEC Golfer of the Year. She’s also the defending Spanish amateur champion, she once bypassed a five-figure check earned on the golf course and she’s dabbled in reality television.

Seriously. Nothing bothers this girl.

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Virginia head coach Kim Lewellen was not surprised by Altomare’s performance.

“She’s very capable of doing this,” Lewellen said of Altomare, who’s nicknamed “The Quiet Giant” by her teammates. “She has a game that fits this course. She hits it long and she hits a high ball and that works well here.”

The Cavaliers ended the round at 3-over. Senior Callie Neilson was the other Cavalier under par Wednesday, clocking in at one-under-par 71 despite a double bogey on the last.

“It’s a great golf course,” Neilson said. “It’s a ballstriker’s course, which I think suites our game really well. If you can put the ball where you want, you can do well and I think we did that today.”

Purdue, the only team from the morning wave to make the top five, sits tied with LSU for third. Numa Gulyanamitta led the Boilermakers with a 71, followed by Paula Reto with a 73 and the other three Purdue players – Laura Gonzalez, Maude Aimee LeBlanc and Thea Hoffmeister each with a 74.

LSU got even-par 72s from Megan McChrystal, Austin Ernst and Jacqueline Hedwall.

In the medalist race, Altomare leads with Michigan State solo player Caroline Powers one shot back with a 70, followed by a gaggle of players with 71.