RIO VERDE, Ariz. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's golf team carded a first-round 308 to sit in 12th place at the Rio Verde Invitational, played at the White Wing Golf Course. Nikki Dunn led the way with a 75 in the opening round of the event, which was shortened to two rounds due to rain on Friday.
"While we put some decent numbers on the board, there were low scores to be had with the weather today," head coach Carol Blackmar said. "Just a few shots here or there and we'd be right in the mix. We still have an opportunity to rally tomorrow for a top-5 finish, we just need to seize the opportunities we get."
Northern Arizona leads the way with a 288, while Eastern Michigan sits in second with a 295. Ball State and Toledo are tied for third at 300, while Bowling Green and Wichita State tied for fifth at 303, just five shots ahead of the Islanders.
In addition to Dunn's 75, fellow senior Taylor Slagle shot a 77 in the first round. Sophomore Vanessa Johnson and junior Lindsay Biehler each delivered 78s, while junior Krista Fenniak shot 80 for the day.
Dunn had an impressive 16 pars on the day to finish plus-3. She opened the round with a bogey on 13, but then settled in with five consecutive pars to sit 1-over heading to the 1st. There, she ran into some trouble, delivering a double bogey, but that's when she began her run of pars, heading to the clubhouse with 11 straight to finish with a 75.
Slagle started on the 14th, posting a bogey, but came back strong with nine pars over the next 11 holes to sit +3 heading to the eighth. A bogey on the eighth set her back a stroke, but she followed that with five pars before finishing her round with a bogey five on the 13th to finish with a 77 at plus-5.
Johnson had a wild start to her day, posting par just once in her first five holes. She bogeyed the 14th and followed with a double on 15. She then went par-bogey-birdie over the next trio of holes to sit 3-over heading to the first. There, she settled in with two pars to begin a string of five pars over her next six, going to the seventh at plus-4. Bogeys on 7 and 10 put her plus-6, before she cut a stroke with a birdie on the 12th. On 13, though, she finished her round with a bogey 5 to close out the day 6-over.
Biehler opened with a bogey on 16, then after a par on the 17th, she dropped a pair of strokes with a double on the 18th. Like many of her teammates, she settled down after heading to the first, delivering six consecutive pars, but a double on seven pushed her back to plus-five. She responded with pars on the next two, but bogeys on 10 and 14 put her 7-over. The junior finished on a good note, though, delivering a birdie on the 15th to finish with a 78.
Fenniak began her round a par on 15 and a bogey on the 16th, but suffered a major setback with a triple on the par-5 17th. She showed her resolve, however, bouncing back with a birdie on the par-4 18th before adding three straight pars. But back-to-back bogeys pushed her to plus-5, before she rebounded with five pars in a row. A bogey on 11 was offset with a birdie on 12, but she finished with a double on 13 and a bogey on 14 to head to the clubhouse with an 80.
The Islanders will wrap up the Rio Verde Collegiate Invitational on Sunday, March 10, with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Slagle and Dunn will tee off on the 10th, with Johnson on the 11th and Biehler and Fenniak beginning on the 12th. Live stats will be available on GolfStat.com, and updates will be provided on Twitter (@IslandersGolf).