May 12, 2010

By Tom Carkeek
Special to NCAA.com

MESA, Ariz. -
Joanna Coe is trying to ensure that her 2008 national title is more than just a fabulous memory.

The Rollins College (Winter Park, Fla.) junior, who led from wire to wire as the medalist at this year’s South super regional, kept her hot streak going Wednesday as she opened the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships with a 3-over-par 74 at Longbow Golf Club. She is tied for third place.

Coe was as consistent as a metronome. She bogeyed the par-3 third, the par-15 15th and the par-5 18th, and she parred everything else. That was not a usual Coe round, she said.

“I usually have a few birdies, but I couldn’t get the putts to fall today,” said Coe, who set an NCAA scoring record with a 287 in her 2008 championship.

“I played solidly, but I missed some opportunities. They stuck some of the pins in difficult placements, so birdies were hard to come by.”
   
Coe said her national title would not affect her mind-set this week.
   
“I feel like if I just play the game I’m capable of, I can be right in there with anybody,” she said.
   
The other super regional medalists had tougher days.
   
Junior Darcy Lake, who won the West for Cal State-Monterey Bay, shot a 7-over 78. Drury (Springfield, Mo.) sophomore Katrina Choate, the East medalist, finished at 12 over. Upper Iowa junior Jill Preeshl, who won the Central, was at plus-14.
   
Choate and Preeshl are competing as individuals, while Coe and Lake are part of the team competition.

FLYING HIGH:
Two players decorated their scorecards with eagles.
   
Sandra Changkija of Nova Southeastern (Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Fla.) carded a 2 on the 268-yard, par-4 eighth hole. Changkija shot a 74 and is tied for third, and Nova Southeastern leads the team standings.
   
And Karina Palmberg of California (Pa.) holed out in three shots onthe 495-yard, par-5 15th. Palmberg is tied for 18th place at 7-over, and her team is tied for sixth.

LOCAL TALENT: Qualifying as an individual from Grand Canyon State in Phoenix, Georgina Dunn is the only player in the field who attends school in Arizona.

She was at even-par through seven holes before running into a streak of four bogeys and finished at 6-over 77. She is tied for 15th.
   
Dunn started on the back nine, and her trouble began with a three-putt bogey at No. 17.
   
“I got off to a really good start and thought maybe it was going to be an amazing day,” Dunn said. “It didn’t turn out that way, but I’m still pleased with how I played.”
   
Shortly before the super regional, Dunn won the Coca-Cola Collegiate Tournament at Tarleton State (Stephensville, Tex.). That effort included a hole-in-one.

BACK IN THE PACK:
At first, defending national champion Lyndsay McBride of Indianapolis was in decent shape, sitting at just 1-over par through eight holes.
   
But she spiraled downward on the back, finishing at 9-over. Still, don’t count her out. She finished in the top five in 12 of the 13 events she played this year.

NUMBERS GAME: A couple of firsts came out of the team standings in the West super regional.
   
Sonoma State (Calif.) placed third and qualified for the Division II championships for the first time in school history. The team played well in the first round, sitting in fourth place at plus-29, which is 15 strokes off the pace set by Nova Southeastern.
   
Even more remarkable, runner-up Cal State Monterey Bay became the school’s first athletic team to compete at the national level in any of the 12 NCAA sports it competes in. The Otters are ninth at 35 over.
   
In addition, California University (Pa.) took third in the East and is making its first appearance at the championships in school history. They are tied for seventh at 33-over.

WEATHER REPORT: Golfers enjoyed clear, sunny skies Wednesday with a high in the low 80s and light breezes. After initial fears that temperatures would rise markedly later in the week, the projected high for Thursday has been revised downward to 87, with  91 expected Friday and 92 for the final round Saturday.

RUNNING THE SHOW: The tournament hosts are Longbow Golf Club, the Mesa Visitors and Convention Bureau and Grand Canyon State University.