Diana Fernandez led the way for the Tigers with a -1 round of 71 while veteran Carlie Yadloczky overcame a slow start to shoot a +2 round of 74. Marta Sanz and Jamie Yun both finished with 77's while number one player Victoria Trapani struggled and finished with an 80.
Subbing for Coach Kim Evans, who is out after having cancer surgery this week, former Auburn All-American and volunteer coach Danielle Downey says overall it was a solid first round for the Tigers considering the circumstances. Playing in the afternoon when conditions were tougher for scoring, Downey says hopefully round two will mean better results for the team.
"I think they have every condition working in their favor tomorrow and it's their golf course. Hopefully they can really think about that and believe in it and realize the golf course is at its best in the morning. I think they'll be okay. They just needed to get that one under their belt and get the nerves out. They've dealt with a lot of change this year and I'm proud of them."
Carlie Yadloczky walks in an eagle in Thursday's round.
The round of the day for the Tigers came from Fernandez. With three birdies and one bogey on the front nine, she made the turn at -2. On 13 she looked like she would give at least one back with an errant tee shot in the water to the right of the fairway. Dropping and hitting an approach shot just short of the green, Fernandez chipped in to save par. Even though she had two late bogeys on 16 and 17, she says it was a solid first day for her and she feels like the team will have a much better day two now that the nerves are gone.
"The scores in the morning were really low," Fernandez says. "Hopefully the morning tomorrow will work for us too. It's really hard to see those teams shooting so low today and we wanted to do it too. I'm of the philosophy that I don't look at the scoreboard. I didn't look today. You just have to isolate and think about your game. That's what we have to do. We need to not feel the pressure of this being our home course and just treat it like any other tournament."
Alabama leads the way after firing an impressive -11 round on day one of the regional. Arkansas and Tulane are tied for second at -5 with UCLA in fourth at even par. Texas (+1), Oklahoma State (+2), North Carolina (+2), Northwestern (+4) and Notre Dame (+4) round out the top eight after the first day of play. Tennessee (+6) and East Tennessee State (+9) finish off the top 10 teams out of the 24-team field.
Auburn will be first off the tee on Friday morning as the Tigers are hoping to flip the script and take advantage of softer conditions on day two of the regional.