SAINT LEO, FL – With Amanda Gartrell shooting a 75, and Loren Perez and Tori Higgins each shooting a 76, Florida Southern finished day one of the Sunshine State Conference Women's Golf Championship tied for seventh place. The 11th-ranked Moccasins had a team score of 310 (+22), with No. 3 Nova Southeastern setting the pace at +7.
Florida Southern, which is ranked No. 11 in the country, got off to a good start Sunday morning when Perez birdied two of her first three holes and Gartrell eagled the par-5 No. 2. That put both golfers at -1 in the early going, and Perez remained there through the first six holes. Both of them eventually made the turn at +1, and Higgins was only one stroke behind them at +2 following her birdie on No. 8.
All three of the Moccasin leaders bogeyed the par-4 No. 10 after making the turn, but all three played solidly the rest of the day. Each of them parred seven of their final eight holes, giving Gartrell her 75, and Perez and Higgins a 76. That put Gartrell in a tie for eighth place individually, with Perez and Higgins tied for 13th.
Florida Southern's fourth counter was Madi Wetzel with an 83, a wildly deceptive score. She led the entire field with 14 pars Sunday, and only four of the other 54 golfers competing had more combined pars and birdies than Wetzel. She was sitting at +3 with four holes remaining, but a 10 on No. 16 marred an otherwise strong SSC Tournament debut for the Moccasin senior.
Shelby Lewis shot a non-counting 84 Sunday to complete the Florida Southern lineup.
That added up to a team score of 310, putting the Mocs among a group of four teams that were three shots apart from sixth through ninth place, and 15 behind front-running Nova Southeastern. The Sharks were led by Hanna Ahlander's one-under-par 71, and also got scores of 72, 76, and 76 to take a three-shot over No. 8 Lynn at the end of the day. Both Nova and Lynn had all four of their counters at 76 or better.
Top-ranked Barry and No. 13 Saint Leo were tied for third place at +11, trailing No. 3 Nova Southeastern by just four shots, and No. 19 Tampa was fifth at +12, putting the Spartans just five shots off the pace. No. 5 Florida Tech (+21), No. 11 Florida Southern (+22), No. 16 Rollins (+22), and Palm Beach Atlantic (+24) made up the next group of teams, and Embry-Riddle (+39), and Eckerd (+55) were a bit further behind.
Tampa's Kiira Riihijarvi was the individual leader in round one with a three-under-par 69. That made her just the fourth golfer in the tournament's 21-year history to shoot in the 60s in round one, and each of the previous three went on to win the individual title. Riihijarvi, however, was only one stroke ahead of Barry's Lauren Ginberg, and two ahead of Ahlander and Lynn's Matilda Wahren. Nova's Sofia Garcia Austt rounded out the top-five with an even-par 72.
Day one also featured a hole-in-one by Rollins' Lara van Staden, who was tied for 13th with a 76. The sophomore holed the 151-yard No. 7, making her the fourth golfer to accomplish that at the SSC Championships. The most recent had been Florida Southern's Emily Rymer in the final round in 2015 at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento.
Round two of the SSC Championships begins Monday morning at 8:30 on Lake Jovita's South Course. The Moccasins will tee off between 11:20 and 12:00 beginning on hole one.