ELGIN, S.C. — As conditions at The Members Club at Woodcreek toughened, so did the resolve of Charlotte Puts.
The Barry freshman, ranked No. 3 nationally by Golfstat, battled through wind gusts of nearly 25 miles per hour to shoot a first round 73 and lead the field by a stroke at the 2017 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf South Super Regional.
Like many others, Puts was forced to alter her strategy as the weather conditions shifted.
“It was very windy, so I tried to hit a few lower shots into the wind,” she said after her round as the stiff breeze whipped around her. “I had to keep patience the whole round. I made some good putts today so that helped a lot.”
Puts helped propel the nation’s top-ranked team to a one-stroke lead over sixth-ranked and second-seeded Saint Leo. The Lions were paced by Amanda Jakobsson and Marie Coors, the No. 1 player in Division II, who each tied for third with a 3-over 75. Tenth-seeded West Georgia landed in third at 23-over, three shots off the lead, in its first outing since winning the Gulf South Conference championship. The top 10 teams in the standings are separated by just 12 strokes.
Puts put together a consistent round that featured 13 pars and two birdies on her way to finishing the first round 1-over. Both of her birdies came on par-five holes, including the 484-yard 17th as the wind kicked up late in the day.
Hot on her heels was Lynn’s Krissy Ortiz, who netted 14 pars of her own and scored a birdie on the par-five 14th. Barry’s Tilda Larsson tied with West Georgia’s Franziska Bremm and Lauren Lamm of West Florida at 4-over, one shot behind the Saint Leo teammates in a three-way tie for fifth.
Lamm fought through significant foot pain to close her round within striking distance of the lead. Bremm began on the back nine and made the turn at 5-over before holing out from the fairway on the par-4 third, making her one of two golfers to record an eagle on the day and propelling her to a 1-under finish in the second half of her round.
Many teams enter the second round with ground to make up. Six-time national champion Rollins, looking to defend its 2016 crown, is in a tie for fifth place with Florida Tech at 28-over par, eight shots off the pace. Fifth-ranked Nova Southeastern is two shots further back in a tie for seventh with Lee.
The 12 teams and six individuals in attendance are fighting for three team and three individual slots to the 2017 Division II National Championship in Findlay, Ohio, later this month. Competitors will play 36 holes over the next two days to determine who will advance.