Owens Crossroads, AL – For 17 of the 18 holes which comprised Sunday’s first round of the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Golf Championships, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s golf team was among the very best teams in the field as play began.
But that one hole—the water-carrying par-3 at No. 16—was enough to stop a good day from being great for the Govs.
On just one hole, Austin Peay State University was nine-over as a team—the rest of the round saw the Govs at seven-over, which would be three shots off the top spot in the field. Instead, the Govs are in fifth after taking an opening-round 304 into the clubhouse.
Call it a learning experience, which head coach Jessica Combs certainly hopes is the case with two more rounds to play and the APSU Govs eying a fifth-straight top-five finish in the league championships and harboring hopes for the program’s first top-three in the event since 2003. If they’re going to reach those heights, they’ll have to take a lesson from the big numbers at No. 16 on Sunday.
“We played 17 holes of really solid golf today,” Combs said. “Hole 16 just kicked our tail and cost us nine shots as a team. I feel confident that when we play there the next two days, we’ll play it much better.”
Junior Shelby Darnell’s opening-round 73 was highlighted by some big-time play on the back nine. She started the loop in with a birdie at No. 10, then drove the green on the par-4 at No. 12 and saw an eagle putt just lip out, leaving her with a second birdie. She also closed the day by birdieing No. 18 to fire a 35 on the back nine.
Darnell also stayed away from the big numbers with a team-high 11 pars on the opening day. She’s tied for fifth after the first 18 holes.
Sitting just outside the top-10 is senior Riley Cooper, tied for 11th after an opening-round 75. She was into Darnell’s yang, starting out hot with an even-par 36 on the front before becoming one of the victims claimed by No. 16 on the back. Her par-5 prowess (tournament-high 4.50 stroke average on par-5 holes after the opening round) and birdie ability (team-best four birdies thus far) leave her well-positioned to join Darnell near the top of the leaderboard.
“Riley and Shelby played some of the best golf I’ve seen from them in a while,” Combs said. “Riley found her rhythm and ran with it. Shelby had a couple of putts that didn’t go down or she would have been under par for the round.”
Junior Taylor Dedmen and freshman Kady Foshaug matched one another with a 78, and got there in similar fashion. Both had two bogeys and seven pars on the front nine; both picked up a pair of much-needed birdies on the back, particularly for Dedmen at No. 18. Dedmen also served as one of the tournament’s top par-4 scorers, averaging 3.90 strokes per hole.
Andrea Presilla closed with an 85 in her first career OVC Tournament round; she was one of the few unscathed by No. 16, which played as the course’s toughest hole Sunday but Presilla navigated the beast with a par, one of just 21 scores of par or better among the 40-player field.
“I feel like we’re in a good spot for moving day tomorrow,” Combs said. “Kady and Taylor had their fair share of missed putts but hit the ball solidly for the most part. As long as we stay a little more focused and make better decisions around Hole Nos. 14-17, we’ll be in the mix.”
Second-round action for the Govs is scheduled for an 8:40am CT start Monday morning; Austin Peay State University will be paired with Morehead State and Murray State.
Ohio Valley Conference Championship
Hampton Cove – Owens Crossroads, AL
Dates: April 18th – April 20th
|Finish||School – Players||Round 1||Totals|
|5||Austin Peay State University||304||304|
|T 5||Shelby Darnell (2)||73||73|
|T 11||Riley Cooper (4)||75||75|
|T 23||Taylor Dedmen (1)||78||78|
|T 23||Kady Foshaug (3)||78||78|
|38||Andrea Presilla (5)||85||85|