Playing against some of the elite teams in women's collegiate golf, Colorado rose to the occasion Monday in the first round of the Pac-12 Championships at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton, Calif.

Senior Alexis Keating and junior Esther Lee are tied for fifth place and the 40th-ranked CU women's golf team is tied for fourth after recording its best round of the spring. As a group, Colorado combined to shoot 2-under-par 286, four strokes better than its previous best round this spring.

"It's a tough field, tough competition — almost like a mini national championship," CU head coach Anne Kelly said. "It's very important to get off to a good start to at least have a chance to do well in the tournament. You can't get too far behind these teams or they will just run away from you."

The Pac-12 Conference, consistently recognized as one of the toughest leagues in women's collegiate golf, has eight of its 11 teams ranked in the top 20, including two top five teams in Southern California at No. 2 and UCLA at No. 4.

USC leads the championships at 10-under par 278. UCLA is second, four strokes off the pace at 6-under. Arizona State shot 3-under 285 and is in third while Colorado is tied with Oregon and Arizona, one shot behind the Sun Devils at 2-under par.

Keating and Lee paced the Buffaloes shooting 2-under-par 70 on the 6,458-yard, par 72-course. They combined for 26 pars and seven birdies against only three bogeys.


Advertisement

Sophomore Brittany Fan looks to have found her groove again at just the right time for the Buffaloes. After struggling in her last couple events, Fan opened with an even-par 72 and is tied for 22nd.

"Brittany has been working very hard on her putting and just a couple things with her swing that I think she is finally seeing the results from," Kelly said.

Junior Natalie Vivaldi posted a 2-over 74. While her round fluctuated from 1-under par to 4-over at certain parts during the day, she closed nicely, shooting 2-under through her last five holes.

Freshman Gillian Vance made her Pac-12 Championships debut with a 3-over 75, matching her career-best mark of the spring season.

The top five places on the individual leaderboard are separated by only a combined four strokes. Arizona's Haley Moore holds the top spot, shooting 6-under-par 66. She is one stroke ahead of Southern California's Tiffany Chan in second place at 5-under par. Ying Luo is third at 4-under par and Monica Vaughn from Arizona State holds the fourth place spot, carding a 3-under par. A group of 11 players that includes Keating and Lee all shot 2-under and are tied for fifth place.

The Pac-12 Championships continue Tuesday with the second round slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. MDT. Colorado will tee-off from the first hole and is paired with Arizona.

Pac-12 Championships

Ruby Hill GC (par-72)

Pleasanton, Calif.

CU individuals

T5. Alexis Keating..................70

T5. Esther Lee........................70

T22. Brittany Fan....................72

T39. Natalie Vivaldi................74

T45. Gillian Vance..................,75

Top five individuals

1. Haley Moore, Arizona......................66

2. Tiffany Chan, USC............................67

3. Ying Luo, Washington......................68

4. Monica Vaughn, Arizona State........69

T5. Alexis Keating, Colorado...............70

T5. Esther Lee, Colorado.....................70

T5. Bethany Wu, UCLA........................70

T5. Shannon Aubert, Stanford.............70

T5. Gabriella Then, USC.......................70

T5. Lilia Vu, UCLA.................................70

T5. Robynn Ree, USC............................70

T5. Bronte Law, UCLA .........................70

T5. Cathleen Santoso, Oregon.............70

T5.Cherokee Kim, WSU.......................70

T5. Alivia Brown, WSU.........................70

Team scores

1. USC............................................278

2. UCLA.........................................282

3. Arizona State.............................285

T4. Oregon....................................286

T4, Arizona....................................286

T4. Colorado ................................286

T7. Stanford...................................287

T7. Washington State....................287

9. Washington................................289

10. Oregon State............................292

11. California..................................295