RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sophomore Taylor Totland (-2) fired a 2-under 70 to tie for third and lead the 28th-ranked Furman women's golf team in the opening round of the NCAA East Regional in Raleigh N.C., on Thursday at the par-72, 6,381 yard Lonnie Poole Golf Club.
Totland, who is ranked 20th nationally among individuals and was named the 2015 Edna Hartness Furman Female Athlete of the Year, carded five birdies on the day, including back-to-back birdies on No. 6 and 7, to finish two strokes back of second-ranked Madelene Sagstrom (-4) of LSU, who fired a 68 in the opening round.
Senior Laura DeMarco (+3) and junior Valentina Romero (+3) each scored a 75 in the opening round and enter Friday's second round tied for 34th. DeMarco birdied No. 7 then added two birdies on the back nine, while Romero carded a birdie on No. 15. Freshman Alice Chen (+6) scored consecutive birdies on No. 4 and 5 and added a third birdie on No. 13, finishing the round tied for 67th at 78, while fellow freshman Reona Hirai (+7) carded a 79 with a birdie on No. 4 to tie for 80th.
Seventh-ranked LSU (E) leads the field with an even 288, followed by No. 42 N.C. State (+2) in second and No. 40 Ohio State (+4) in third. Campbell (+5) and No. 31 Alabama (+6) round out the fop five, followed by second-ranked South Carolina (+7) in sixth and No. 24 UCF (+8) in seventh. The Paladins (+10) concluded the first round in eighth place and will tee-off in Friday's second round beginning at 7:30 a.m. from hole No. 1. Furman will be playing in a group that includes UCF and No. 18 Florida.
"While we didn't play our best today, I think we held it together," said Furman head coach Kelley Hester, the 2015 SoCon Coach of the Year, who is in her third year at the helm of the Paladin program. "The wind picked up and really sped up the greens. We weren't able to adjust as well as I would have liked, but we are still in the mix. I can't say enough about Taylor's two-under par round. She was as nervous before the round as I have ever seen her, but she found through it to post a great round on a tough day."
The Paladins are part of an 18-team East Regional field which includes five of the top 18 teams and seven of the top 30 teams in the country. The teams are battling for a top six finish and a berth in the 24-team NCAA Championship which is set to be held May 22-27 at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
Furman, who secured the Southern Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by capturing its 14th SoCon Championship two weeks ago at Savannah Quarters Golf Club in Savannah, Ga., is making its 19th NCAA Regional appearance and the program's first since 2010. The Paladins appeared in 18-straight regionals from 1993, when the regional format began, until 2010. The Paladins last reached the NCAA Championship in 2008, when Furman claimed an eighth place finish at the NCAA East Regional in Athens, Ga., to advance to the NCAA Championship in Albuquerque, N.M.
Live scoring of the NCAA East Regional is available at www.golfstat.com or by logging onto www.furmanpaladins.com.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information
8 Furman 298 +10
T3 Taylor Totland 70 -2
T34 Valentina Romero 75 +3
T34 Laura DeMarco 75 +3
T67 Alice Chen 78 +6
T80 Reona Hirai 79 +7