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ND Women’s Golf: Huffer, Irish in control of first

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, April 18, 2011

The Irish began their hunt for a fourth Big East title with a strong opening round of the Big East championship Sunday, finishing the day atop the eight-team field. Notre Dame, the second-seeded squad, completed the first 18 holes in 295 strokes (seven over par), 12 strokes ahead of second-place Georgetown.

The No. 25 Irish also dominated the individual leaderboard. Junior Becca Huffer currently leads the field of 40 competitors with a stroke total of 72 (even), and freshman Kristina Nhim and senior So-Hyun Park are both one stroke behind at 73 (plus-one). Freshman Nicole Zhang, ranked No. 40 in the nation, currently sits tied for 12th place after a round of 77 (plus-five), and senior captain Katie Conway is one stroke behind in 17th place.

Nhim said the team was generally pleased with its performance.

“I know that Becca [Huffer] had a lot of pars, and So-Hyun [Park] played lights out and had a bunch of birdies. We all played a little more consistently, but we still left a lot of shots out there,” Nhim said. “Personally, I started hitting many more greens and putting well, and I think placing your ball well and putting are key to playing well.”

The Irish enjoyed the atmosphere and conditions at the Island Course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., which is hosting the Big East championship for the second time.

“Big East feels a little different just because of our rival Louisville, but other than that we treat it as a regular tournament,” Nhim said. “Conditions were great, the weather was really nice and not so hot and humid.”

One difference between the conference championship and a typical weekend tournament was the off-course experience. On Saturday night, all of the competing men’s and women’s squads were invited to an event highlighted by a speech from former PGA Tour competitor Olin Browne.

“Olin Browne’s speech was really cool; he talked about how golf is really a journey and that you have to keep plugging away at it and keep trying,” Nhim said.

Despite the early lead, Notre Dame will have to “keep plugging away” over the last two rounds in order to take home the Big East title. Irish rival No. 36 Louisville is in third place with a score of 308 (plus-20) and host South Florida is fourth at 310 (plus-22). Rutgers (plus-24), St. Johns (plus-31), Cincinnati (plus-32) and Seton Hall (plus-64) finish out the eight-team field.

The Irish head back to the links for the second round of the Big East championship at 8 a.m. Monday morning.