Off the fringe: Kristin Walla
May 7, 2009
Greetings from sunny (and blistering hot) Arizona!
We are one round into the NCAA West Regional Championship. It was a perfect day on the golf course today—hardly a breeze and not a cloud in the sky.
We had some tough competition coming from the home team, ASU, who have played great this year. It was no surprise to see them come out with all guns blazing this morning in the early wave with a team-total 15-under-par.
We held on strong in our afternoon wave, finishing a respectable even par as a team—good enough for a tie for second place.
The Karsten Course is a Pete Dye design, so it is no surprise to see the signature railroad ties bordering the lake holes—of which there are five. There’s a good mix of short and long holes, so it’s a good track for picking your shots to hit to the center of the greens on the tough ones, and then attacking the pins with your short irons.
I was fortunate enough to get off to a good start. I birdied my second and fourth holes, strung on a few good pars and capped off my first nine with a 10-foot birdie on 18 (we started on 10) for a 3-under first nine.
I got a little birdie crazy on one and blasted my putt six feet by the hole, three-putting for my first bogey. When I failed to get up and down on four, and found trouble in a waste bunker on five, I realized I needed to bare down. Good news was, I was still even par.
The next two holes are both par threes—extremely rare to see. I hit a solid three-hybrid into the wind to the 183-yard hole. I ended up about 18 feet behind the hole. I drained it.
The next hole is about 155-yards going back down wind. I pured a 7-iron to just right of the flagstick. A knoll in front of the green blocks the view so I couldn’t tell how good it was until I got up there. The straight uphill 5-footer gave me no trouble and I was right back in the thick of things at two-under-par. It’s not every day that you can card back-to-back twos!
The next hole was into the wind and my drive found the right rough. A 4-hybrid seemed to be the best choice, given my lie, but it was a bit too much and I was left with a long chip back down a tier to the front hole location. I ground out the seven footer and headed to my final hole.
It was also into the wind and lined with water all along the right side. I decided to play it safe, left of the pin, and hit a knock-down six-iron from 145 to about 25 feet. Earlier in the day I had told Shannon Fish that I was going to make six birdies today, so I really wanted this one. I was facing a left to right downhill putt across the green. I struck it perfectly on-line and it was heading in for the kill, but I didn’t give it quite enough juice. I came up six-inches short.
My two-under-par round still left me in good position for the next two days, and I was pleased with my play. Thanks to a gritty birdie on her final hole, Shannon Fish came in after me at even-par. Kelley Louth followed her with an even-par round herself. More solid play from our tall frosh, Nicole Vandermade, put our team score at even-par.
We’re all looking forward to another great day tomorrow. We’ve got to keep pressing on and see if we can catch ASU and Texas A&M as we’re sure to see some competition from the teams below us as well. Look for a blog from my teammate, Meredith McMahan, tomorrow from “behind the ropes.”