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Owings Mills, Md. Playing in near-perfect conditions, the third-ranked Virginia women’s golf team found itself tied for ninth place after the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Championships taking place at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. Led by 3-over performances from Whitney Neuhauser and Calle Nielson, the Cavaliers shot 17-over 305 while playing in the afternoon session.

Denver, which won the NCAA East Regional, finished with the first-day lead in the 24-team field. The 14-ranked Pioneers shot 6-over 294 to hold a two-shot advantage over second-ranked UCLA. North Carolina is third overall at 299 while 2008 NCAA Champion USC is fourth at 301. Top-ranked Arizona State is tied with LSU for fifth at 302. Among the other ACC teams in the field, Wake Forest is in seventh place at 303 while Duke is 14th at 308.

Nielson and Neuhauser are tied for 25th place after shooting 3-over to start the tournament. Virginia senior Kristen Simpson, playing in her first NCAA Championship, shot 77 and is 50th overall. Lene Krog is 60th at 78 and Joy Kim stands 79th at 79.

“It is a beautiful golf course and the conditions were very good for a championship,” said UVa coach Kim Lewellen. “I think we left a lot of strokes out there. We’re hitting it well and putting well. I think some of our course management decisions could have been better. We’ll talk about that. There were a lot of strokes out there that could have been saved. We’ll build from that and hopefully get better and better each day.”

Starting on the 10th tee, the Cavaliers jumped out to a good start thanks to back-to-back birdies by Simpson and Kim on their first hole. Two players later, Nielson became the third Cavalier to start her round with a birdie. Virginia managed to make the turn at 6-over as a team, despite the fact Neuhauser played her first nine holes at 3-over.

“Whitney is very excited about the championship and you could tell on the first tee she had some nerves,” Lewellen said. “She settled in a little bit and played her game like she usually does. Whitney is an outstanding player. If she is not having her best day, she is going to grind it out and get a good score out of it.”

Neuhauser, who finished the 2008 NCAA Championships in 101st place, navigated her final nine holes at even par. Her teammates, however, struggled down the stretch.

Virginia’s other three scoring players finished the final four holes at a combined 10-over. Three of those holes, six, eight and nine, proved to be among the five toughest on the course during the first round. The average score for the 126-player field was 77.92.

Only two players, North Carolina’s Catherine O’Donnell and Denver’s Stephanie Sherlock, managed to shoot under par during the day. The share the lead by two strokes at 2-under 70.

“Our final holes coming in are long and the wind picked up a little bit for us,” Lewellen said. “We didn’t play as well coming in, but saying that, we’ll look at the course and figure out some better ways to play it. We’re not that many strokes out of the lead. On this course, that’s a do-able makeup.”

Paired with Oklahoma State and TCU for the first two rounds, the Cavaliers will start their second round at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday. Play during the opening two rounds was moved back 30 minutes due to morning frost.

This is UVa’s third appearance at the NCAA Championships. The Cavaliers finished 12th last year and were 13th in 2005.

Live scoring of the NCAA Championships is online at The 72-hole tournament runs through Friday.

NCAA Championships
Caves Valley Golf Club
Owings Mills, Md.
Par-72, 6,443 yards
First Round Results

Team Results
1. Denver (14) 294
2. UCLA (2) 296
3. North Carolina (10) 299
4. USC (4) 301
5. Arizona State (1) 302
5. LSU (7) 302
7. Oklahoma State (5) 303
7. Wake Forest (12) 303
9. Virginia (3) 305
9. Alabama (6) 305
11. Purdue (9) 306
12. Michigan State (17) 307
12. Tennessee (24) 307
14. Duke (11) 308
15. Arizona (20) 310
16. New Mexico (22) 311
17. Pepperdine (13) 312
17. Tulane (29) 312
19. Texas (38) 314
19. TCU (27) 314
21. UT Chattanooga (44) 316
21. Georgia (15) 316
23. UC Irvine (18) 320
24. Ohio State (26) 323
Number in parenthesis is Golfstat ranking

Individual Leaders
1. Catherine O’Donnell, North Carolina 70
1. Stephanie Sherlock, Denver 70
3. Ginny Brown, Tennessee 72
3. Stephanie Connelly, UCF* 72
3. Nannette Hill, Wake Forest 72
3. Jennifer Song, USC 72
7. Allie Bodemann, Wake Forest 73
7. Britney Choy, New Mexico 73
7. Ellie Givens, Denver 73
7. Stephanike Kono, UCLA 73
7. Lindsey Solberg, Michigan State 73
*Individual competitor

25. Calle Nielson 75
25. Whitney Neuhauser 75
50. Kristen Simpson 77
60. Lene Krog 78
79. Joy Kim 79

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