Altomare Fires 69 to Take Lead at NCAA Championships
Bryan, TX – Virginia sophomore Brittany Altomare (Shrewsbury, Mass.) shot 3-under 69 at the NCAA Championships to take the tournament’s opening round lead. Playing in 15 to 20 mile per hour winds throughout the day, Altomare helped Virginia finish second after Wednesday’s first round at 3-over 291. UCLA leads the 24-team field at 1-over 289. The tournament is taking place at The Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas and runs through Saturday.
Altomare got off to a sizzling start, making birdies on five of her first seven holes while playing in the afternoon session and starting on the 10th hole. Bogeys on her 10th, 13th and 14th holes brought her back to 2-under, but then she sandwiched a pair of birdies around a bogey to finish her round atop the leaderboard.
“I felt awesome. I was in such a groove,” Altomare said. “I don’t even know how to explain it. I just kind of saw a shot and I hit it and it did what I expected it to do.
“I was trying to stay in the moment and play shot-by-shot, which is what I had not been doing this spring. I wanted to play confident and I think I did that today.”
In September Altomare finished 19th at the Fall Preview that was also played at the Traditions Club. She shot 69 during her final round of that tournament. Last year she placed 15th at the NCAA Championships.
“I really like this golf course,” Altomare said. “It is a championship golf course. You have to hit shots and be smart. There are so many good players here. You have to play smart and you have to play well. It is a long, long tournament.”
Altomare entered the tournament as Virginia’s stroke average leader this season. Her average round score of 73.27 ranks her 15th in the nation according to Golfweek. An All-ACC selection, she has won two tournaments this season, placing first at the Golfweek Challenge and at The Landfall Tradition. Her best finish in the spring was a seventh-place performance at the ACC Championships.
“I could tell recently through practice that Brittany has been hitting it very well and gaining some confidence,” said Virginia coach Kim Lewellen. “She had an outstanding fall and a little bit of a rusty spring. This girl can play. She’s played in two U.S. Women’s Opens. She enjoys playing the championships. I think the course sets up well for her. She hits the ball long and high. On some greens, that might be dried out from the wind, the greens are going to hold and be receptive for her.”
Senior Calle Nielson also sparked the Cavaliers, shooting 1-under 71 to tie for fifth place. She had four birdies, a bogey and saw her final putt spin out of the cup for a double-bogey.
“I hit the ball phenomenal today and I putted well,” Nielson said. “My last hole was a bit shaky because I had a putt lip out and come right back at me. I’m playing really well. My head is in the right place and my confidence is there and I trying not to doubt anything. I did everything really well today.”
“To have two under-par rounds during these types of conditions really helped us and I like where we are at,” Lewellen said. “We just need to continue what we are doing now. I’m happy that we have the eight o’clock starting time for the second round. Hopefully the wind will be less severe and we can go out there and get some birdies early and be in a similar situation entering the third round.”
Joy Kim at 3-over 75 and Nicole Agnello at 4-over 76 where UVa’s other two scoring players during the round. Kim enters the second round in 42nd place while Agnello is in 57th position. Freshman Portland Rosen finished at 8-over 80 and is in 104th place.
“It was a team effort today,” Nielson said. “I feel like we all want it. We are the underdog and we have to show people what we can do and this is the place we have to do it. If we have to win one tournament all year, then this is the tournament. We have been in 13th and 14th place in the past after the first and second days. It is cool to be right there with the leader, just two shots behind them, after the first day.”
Virginia tees off at 8 a.m. CT during the second round. Live scoring is online at NCAASports.com.
The Traditions Club
Par-72, 6,260 yards
First Round Results
1. UCLA 289
2. Virginia 291
3. Purdue 292
3. LSU 292
5. Florida 294
6. Texas A&M 295
7. Arizona State 296
8. Vanderbilt 297
9. Wake Forest 298
10. Tennessee 299
11. Alabama 301
12. USC 302
12. South Carolina 302
14. Ohio State 303
15. Arizona 304
16. Arkansas 305
16. Minnesota 305
16. North Carolina 305
19. California 306
20. Stanford 308
20. Notre Dame 308
22. Washington 312
23. UC Davis 313
24. Coastal Carolina 322
1. Brittany Altomare, Virginia 69
2. Caroline Powers, Michigan State 70
2. Michelle Shin, Wake Forest 70
2. Glory Yang, UCLA 70
5. Katie Burnett, South Carolina 71
5. Numa Gulyanamitta, Purdue 71
5. Tiffany Lua, UCLA 71
5. Calle Nielson, Virginia 71
5. Marta Silva Zamora, Georgia 71
1. Brittany Altomare 69
5. Calle Nielson 71
42. Joy Kim 75
57. Nicole Agnello 76
104. Portland Rosen 80