?Batman? Helps Rosen Grab Early Lead at NCAA Championships
Franklin, TN – A week before the start of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Virginia coach Kim Lewellen approached sophomore Portland Rosen with a new putter in hand. Rosen had struggled during her second season as a Cavalier, breaking par just once in 24 rounds. Lewellen thought going from a traditional short putter to a belly putter might make a difference in her game. Did it ever.
Rosen used an eagle to start her round and then posted five more birdies on the front nine of the Vanderbilt Legends Course to finish the first day of the tournament atop the NCAA leaderboard with a school record score of 6-under 66.
Behind Rosen’s effort, Virginia posted its best single-round score in six years of NCAA Championship play at even par 288. UVa trails only second-ranked Alabama following Tuesday’s round. The Crimson Tide leads the field at 2-under 286. Duke is in third place at 289 and North Carolina is fourth at 290.
The Cavaliers could have owned the first round lead with a lower score, but sophomore Elizabeth Brightwell had her opening round disqualified when she signed an incorrect scorecard. Brightwell signed for a round of 1-under 71, but her actual score was even par 72. The error was discovered several hours after the Cavaliers had concluded their opening 18 holes.
Brightwell will not be eligible for the NCAA individual title, but her scores will count toward the team total for the final three rounds.
“I feel bad for Elizabeth and bad for the team,” Lewellen said. “We just have to go out there and keep playing.”
A native of Sugarland, Texas, Rosen credited her new putter for much of her opening round success.
“We call it Batman,” Rosen said. “It’s my best friend. I like the long putter, it’s fun.”
Lewellen felt that Rosen’s “quick hands” from her days growing up playing softball were causing her putting line to be slightly off center.
“She hasn’t been putting well all year,” Lewellen said. “Her greens in regulation are always good. She averages anywhere from 12 to 15 per round, but her putts have not been so good. She looked at this style of putter about a month ago and she liked it then. We decided last week to put it in play. It has a shape that makes it look like the Batman symbol so that’s where the name came from. And you know what, today it worked like a super hero.”
In her last tournament, Rosen placed 101st at the NCAA Central Regional at Ohio State, finishing at 28-over 244. Despite that, Rosen felt confident playing at Vanderbilt’s home golf course where she was 22nd last September at the Fall Preview. She shot 2-over 222 at that tournament that showcased the top teams in the nation.
“I did have a rough regional,” Rosen said. “I just thought, ‘Have fun Portland, it’s your last tournament of the year. You only do this once in your life. You’re only in college once in your life. So have fun.'”
Rosen started her round by holing her second shot from 171 yards with a 5-iron to record her eagle. After turning at 29, she dropped back to 5-under following a pair of bogeys on the back nine, but finished her round with a birdie on No. 18.
“I now believe everyone when they say they get in a zone,” Rosen said. “I was definitely in that. It was very calm.”
To keep herself loose, Rosen sang to herself during the round.
“Today I was singing country songs since I was in Tennessee,” she said.
Rosen’s teammates gave her plenty of support. Junior Brittany Altomare finished at 1-under 71. Senior Lauren Greenlief shot 2-over 74, her best score in 11 rounds of NCAA Regional or Championship play, and freshman Briana Mao finished at 5-over 77.
Altomare is in 12th place, Greenlief is 34th and Mao is 85th following the first round.
Altomare, who was 15th at the 2010 NCAA Championships and 12th last year, had six birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey. At last year’s NCAA Championships she led the field after the first round thanks to a 3-under 69.
“I can’t even describe my round,” said the two-time All-American who was second at the Fall Preview on the same course. “It went from really good to really bad to really good again. I had six birdies but only shot one under. It was an up-and-down day.
“It is a golf course where you have to hit good shots and play smart,” Altomare said. “I like to think my way around a golf course. I don’t really like golf courses where you can hit it anywhere and still shoot under par. I think it sets up well for me.”
All five of the Cavalier players put the initials “CB” on their balls during the first round to recognize Cassidy Bailie, the 10-year-old daughter of assistant coach Brian Bailie, who has been hospitalized with an illness for a month and underwent surgery Tuesday. Bailie did not make the trip to the NCAA Championships. Former All-American Calle Nielson, a native of Nashville, is serving as the team’s assistant coach this week.
Virginia will start its second round Wednesday at 11:53 a.m. CT. The Cavaliers will again be paired with Baylor and Florida. The third and fourth round pairings will be based on results. Live scoring of the tournament is online at Golfstat.com.
2012 NCAA Championships
Vanderbilt Legends Club – North Course
Par-72, 6,377 yards
First Round Results
1. Alabama 286
2. Virginia 288
3. Duke 289
4. North Carolina 290
5. UCLA 292
5. Arizona State 292
7. Purdue 293
7. LSU 293
9. Oklahoma 294
10. Michigan State 296
11. USC 297
11. Colorado 297
11. Texas 297
14. NC State 299
14. Baylor 299
16. Tennessee 300
17. Texas A&M 301
18. South Carolina 302
18. Florida 302
20. Arkansas 303
20. Ohio State 303
22. Vanderbilt 306
22. Pepperdine 306
24. Stanford 309
1. Portland Rosen, Virginia 66
2. Laura Gonzalez, Purdue 67
3. Catherine O’Donnell, North Carolina 68
3. Brooke Pancake, Alabama 68
5. Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Oklahoma 69
5. Stephanie Meadow, Alabama 69
5. Giulia Molinaro, Arizona State 69
5. Tessa Teachman, LSU 69
9. Lindy Duncan, Duke 70
9. Kimberly Kaufman, Texas Tech 70
9. Madelene Sagstrom, LSU 70