MOBILE, Ala. -- Just a few short months ago, four members of UTA's first full women's golf team were graduating from high school. Today the quartet of true freshmen joined a pair of returning redshirts to compete in the program's first-ever collegiate tournament.
UTA acquitted itself well in its opening event, registering a 14-over par 302 and sitting in a tie for seventh place in the 13-team field after the first round of the 36-hole USA Intercollegiate at Magnolia Grove Crossings Golf Course.
The teams return to the 6,002-yard, par 72 Robert Trent Jones-designed course at 8:30 a.m. (CDT) tomorrow for the second of the tournament's three rounds. The final round is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Freshman Ava Schwienteck (Magnolia, Texas), the 2016 Texas Class 5A state champion, led the Mavericks with a 1-over par 73 and is tied for 15th place in the 74-golfer field. Redshirt freshman Allison Wade (Arlington, Texas) is just a stroke behind, tied for 19th place at 2-over par 74.
"Overally, I thought I played pretty well considering I started out a bit rocky due to nerves," said Schwienteck. "Once I settled down on the back nine, I was better off the tee and hit most of my approaches close to the hole.
"It was really awesome to finally play the first tournament in program history and I thought our team played well overall. Our top four scores were good and I think everyone is determined to play better. I really didn't know what to expect (playing in a college event). But, now that we have our first round under our belt, we can settle down and play like we know we can."
As a team, UTA is tied with McNeese for seventh place, six strokes behind sixth place Lamar and seven behind Troy. Host South Alabama and UAB share the team lead at even par, while Tulane is in third place at 2-over. The Mavericks are ahead of programs from Alabama State, Samford, Lipscomb, West Florida and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
"I thought, considering today was the first competitive round in program history, everyone played very well," said UTA director of golf Stuart Deane. "Certainly, I expected some nerves. But, for the most part, everyone started out pretty well. Other than a couple of putts, Allison and Ava each had very good rounds and are among the top 20 individuals.
"Everyone reacts to situations differently, but I really like the competitive spirit of all six ladies on our team. They aren't satisfied with their performances today and expect more. They all believe they can win, both individually and as a team. That attitude, and more experience, will be a big key in our program's progression."
Schwienteck opened her first collegiate round with two bogeys in her first three holes before settling down with a birdie on the 478-yard, par 5 fourth hole. Another pair of bogeys on holes 7 and 9 placed her at 3-over par at the turn.
Schwienteck settled down on the back nine, registering seven pars and birdies on the par 4 11th hole and par 5 16th to complete her round at 1-over. She also had the distinction of achieving a couple of the program's "firsts."
- First Shot: Rachel Phillips' tee shot on the 342-yard, par 4 No. 1
- First Birdie: Ava Schwienteck on the 478-yard, par 5 No. 4.
- First Par: Rachel Phillips on the 342-yard, par 4 No. 1
- First Under Par 9 Holes: Ava Schwienteck, 2-under 34 par on the back nine
Wade, who joined junior Rachel Phillips (Plano, Texas) on last year's 2-person team that used the season to train in preparation for this inaugural year of competition, also started slow by going 2-over par on the front nine before settling in by going even par on the back.
Phillips, a transfer from McLennan Community College, was the first UTA golfer to start the day and posted the best start on the front nine at 1-over going into the turn. She made par on 12 of her first 13 holes before finishing at 5-over par 77 to tie for 36th on the day.
Freshman Kate Tran (Arlington, Texas), also finished 1-over after the first nine holes, but a pair of double bogeys on the back pushed her to a round of 6-over par 78. She sits in a tie for 40th place. Classmate Madigan Murray (McKinney, Texas) concluded her first collegiate round at 9-over par 81 and is tied for 60th.
Playing as an individual, freshman Sydney Garber (Rockwall, Texas) rebounded from a difficult front nine to go even par on the back and finished with an 8-over par 80. She is tied for 54th in the individual competition, but her scores during the tournament do not count toward the team's totals.
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