SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Texas Tech withstood its most-challenging conditions of the season Friday as the Lady Raiders battled cold, windy and rainy conditions during the opening round of the NCAA Championships held at Rich Harvest Farms.
On a day where par alone was difficult, Tech closed the tournament's first 18 holes in 24th place after carding a 47-over-par 335 round. It is a similar position Tech faced just two years ago when the Lady Raiders ended the opening round in 23rd place, only to move all the way into a tie for sixth place several days later to advance into match play.
The Lady Raiders capitalized on a strong second round during their magical run in 2015, something Tech will need Saturday when it tees off in the afternoon wave Saturday. Tech was among the first teams on the course during Friday's opening round.
Sofia Garcia powered the Lady Raiders with an 8-over 80 card that was Tech's lowest on the day. She posted two of Tech's four birdies, both of which that came on par-5 holes. Garcia had a stellar approach to setup her birdie at the 11th – her second hole of the round – and then sank a difficult putt at the 18th.
Lauren Mason and Mami Yamamoto recorded Tech's other two birdies with Mason chipping out at the par-3 5th while Yamamoto began her back nine by taking advantage of the par-5 2nd.
Mason signed for Tech's second-lowest card with a 12-over 84 that was one stroke better than Cara Barker. Gabby Barker had Tech's final contributing score with a plus-15 that edged Yamamoto by a single swing.
All but two schools in the 24-team field shot at least 23-over on the day as the Lady Raiders trail 15th-place California by 16 strokes and then eighth-place North Carolina – its playing partner over the first two rounds – by 21 swings. Tech will need to finish among the top-15 teams to advance to Monday's fourth round and then among the top eight from there to move on to match play.
Northwestern, playing roughly 60 miles from its campus in nearby Evanston, took the opening-day lead following a 13-over round that was two strokes better than second-place Kent State. Ohio State, Arizona State, Stanford and Baylor are the next-highest teams on the leaderboard at 23-over and in a tie for third overall.
Tech will start from the No. 1 box Saturday as Yamamoto will be the first Lady Raider to tee off the second round. She will begin her round at 1:36 p.m. CT with the rest of the lineup set to follow in 11-minute intervals.
Coverage of Tech's stay at the NCAA Championships can be found via @TexasTechWGolf on Twitter as well as the living scoring function at Golfstat.com.