STILLWATER, Okla. – Ball State women's golfer Jenna Hague opened the NCAA Central Regional on Thursday with a 5-over par round of 77.
Hague, selected to compete as an individual, is part of a group tied for 55th in the field of 126 golfers at Oklahoma State’s Karsten Creek Golf Club. Rainy conditions early in the round gave way to sunny skies and temperatures rising into the low 80s as the day progressed.
Only five players were under par for the day, led by Kent State’s Wad Phaewchimplee whose 7-under 65 was three shots better than anyone in the field. Alabama’s Emma Talley posted the low round of the morning wave and ended the day in second place with a 68.
Alabama and California are tied atop the team leaderboard at 7 over, followed by Florida and Kent State at 8 over and Oklahoma State at 10 over.
Hague, who played in the morning, started her round with bogeys on four of the first eight holes but bounced back to play the final 10 holes in 1 over. The junior from Burlington, Ontario, put herself in some tough spots off the tee on a tight driving course but made a handful of key putts during the middle of the round.
“The holes are longer on the front nine, so if you’re not getting off the tee well, it’s tough to hit the greens in regulation and give yourself good birdie looks,” Hague said. “I didn’t make a whole lot on the front nine, but I didn’t make a lot of mistakes either, which kept me in it for the back nine.”
Hague drained three straight par putts on the ninth, 10th and 11th holes and then dropped in a 15-footer for birdie at No. 12 to move to 3 over. She had birdie chances at the next two holes, as well, but they would not fall.
A bogey from the front bunker at No. 16 halted a string of seven straight holes of par or better. She followed it with a bogey on the challenging 17th, which played directly into the wind, and a par on the 18th to cap her first career NCAA tournament round.
“I battled, but unfortunately I gave a few back coming in,” Hague said. “I’m hoping to really tighten things up tomorrow and shave a few strokes off.”
Hague will again play with Purdue's Aurora Kan and TCU's Sanna Nuutinen in Friday's second round. The group will begin its day on the 10th tee in the afternoon wave at 12:45 p.m. CT (1:45 ET). Kan led the group Thursday with a 75.
Hague is the second Ball State women's golfer ever to play in an NCAA Regional. Brittany Kelly earned a spot in the 2011 tournament.
A total of 24 teams plus six individuals are competing this week at Karsten Creek. The top eight teams along with the top two individuals not associated with one of those teams will advance to the NCAA Nationals.
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