BOCA RATON – Playing in the first postseason tournament of her college career, freshman Ashley Zagers was Florida Southern's top golfer Sunday in the first round of the Sunshine State Conference Women's Golf Championships, turning in a score that was four strokes better than any of her more veteran teammates. With most of round one being played in windy conditions at Osprey Point Golf Course, Zagers' 78 put her in a tie for 17th place individually, and helped the 6th-ranked Moccasins end the day in seventh place as a team.
Top-ranked Nova Southeastern was the only team to break 300 Sunday with a 297 (+9) that included a four-under-par 68 from individual leader Michelle Ruiz. That made her the only golfer to break, or even make par, with Ruiz holding a five-stroke lead over Barry's Josefina Foa Torres and Lynn's Matilda Wahren. Less than half the field shot better than 80, and only were better than 75.
The Sharks' 297 put them three shots ahead of 5th-ranked Barry, five in front of 10th-ranked Lynn, and at least 14 ahead of everyone else.
Zagers was playing in the third position in the lineup following senior Abbey Williams and fellow freshman Shelby Lewis on to the course Sunday morning, with junior Tori Higgins and sophomore Amanda Gartrell in the number two and one positions respectively. All three of the Moccasins' other counters, which were Gartrell, Higgins, and Williams, shot an 82, while Lewis had an 83.
That gave the Moccasins a team score of 324 in less than ideal conditions, well off their average of 302.5 going into the tournament. They weren't alone either. The average team score for the day was a 316, and five teams were at 320 or higher. That was after six teams were under 300 in last year's opening round when only three were at 320 or higher in any of the three rounds during the 2017 championship tournament.
This is the first year 11 teams have competed in the SSC Championships, and the Moccasins were one of only four on Sunday that did not have at least two triple bogeys (or worse) in their round. The others were Barry, tournament host Lynn, and Rollins.
Williams, who was first out of the gate for Florida Southern, parred the first four holes, and Lewis was likewise even through her first four. Five straight bogeys, however, sent Williams through the turn at +5, and Lewis used a birdie on No. 9 to keep herself at +3.
Meanwhile, Zagers had started in similar fashion to Williams and Lewis. She parred the first three holes in her case, before a bogey on 4 and another par on 5 left her at +1. She too birdied No. 9 to make the turn at +2 for the Mocs' best score halfway through the round. She remained in that spot through the final nine holes with an overall score of 78 (+6).
A few holes behind Zagers were Higgins and Gartrell, the Moccasins' final two counters. Both were five-over through 11 before they each finished at +10. That tied them with Williams for 34th place, while Lewis was tied for 39th. Lewis was also the only Moccasin to have more than one birdie in the opening round, with her two coming on the par-3 No. 2 and the par-4 No. 9.
The Moccasins had five birdies as a team, which was good for fifth. Barry and Nova Southeastern tied for the lead with nine.
Round two begins Monday morning at 7:30, with the Moccasins' first tee time at 8:10.