Led by sophomore Ana Belac, No. 4 Duke shot a blistering 11-under-par 277 to take an early one-stroke lead over No. 2 Alabama after the first round of The Landfall Tradition at the Country Club of Landfall on Friday afternoon.
The Blue Devils, who are aiming to win their third Landfall Tradition title, set a tournament record for the lowest first round score after shattering the previous mark by 10 strokes. Alabama, which had three players close out Friday’s action in the top 10, finished at 10-under-par while No. 16 Michigan State (-6) and No. 9 South Carolina (-3) also finished under par.
Belac, who posted eight birdies in the first round, became the sixth golfer in the 16-year history of the tournament to shoot six-under-par in a single round. She is also the second golfer to open the tournament at six-under-par, joining Nanna Madsen of South Carolina (2014).
Duke, paced by Belac’s career-best round, had four players finish at par or better. Freshman Jaravee Boonchant carded a three-under-par 69 to earn a share of fifth place while freshman Miranda Wang follows in a tie for eighth place after finishing at two-under-par. Senior Leona Maguire is tied for 20th place after shooting even par in the opening round.
Junior Lauren Stephenson, ranked third in the most recent GolfStat rankings, led Alabama during the opening round by shooting five-under-par, including six birdies, to enter the second round just one stroke off the pace. Sophomore Kristen Gillman joined Stephenson in the top five after carding a three-under-par round.
Overall, an outstanding group of 20 players finished the opening round under par on the Pete Dye Course, including seven golfers who shot 69 or better.
UNCW completed the opening round at eight-over-par, which is good for 11th place in the 18-team field. Sophomore Thao My Nguyen led the charge by finishing in a tie for 16th place at one-under-par while junior Ellinoora Moisio closed out play on Friday with a share of 35th place following a two-over-par effort.
First Round Notes: The previous record for the lowest team first round score was 287, which was set by Purdue in 2007 and matched by Duke in 2015 … The Blue Devils finished just two strokes shy of matching the overall lowest round mark set by Michigan State in 2015 … Nguyen posted her fourth round of par or better this season, which leads the UNCW team … Duke shot in the 270s for the sixth time this season.
Up Next: The Landfall Tradition continues on Saturday morning with the second round beginning at 8:30 a.m. with a split tee start.
Team Scores: 1. Duke 277; 2. Alabama 278; 3. Michigan State 282; 4. South Carolina 285; 5. Purdue 290; 6. Furman 292; T-7. Florida 294; T-7. LSU 294; T-7. Oklahoma State 294; 10. Virginia 295; 11. UNCW 296; 12. Michigan 297; 13. Penn State 298; T-14. NC State 299; T-14. Clemson 299; 16. Notre Dame 301; 17. Kentucky 304; 18. UCF 306.
UNCW Results: T-16. Thao My Nguyen 71; T-35. Ellinoora Moisio 74; T-47. Lyberty Anderson 75; T-58. Kayla Thompson 76; T-85. Rachael Mast 79.