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Strong Scores Across the Board Mark Day One of the Lady Moc Classic with Nova on Top by Six Shots

Amanda Gartrell
Amanda Gartrell

LAKELAND, FLA. – Nova Southeastern began the 2019 Lady Moc Classic with an opening-round record 287 before being out-shot by seven other schools in round two, but the Sharks still managed to hold the lead at the end of the day. The first day of the tournament saw some of the best scores across the board the tournament has ever had, with 3rd-ranked Nova up by six shots over No. 21 Saint Leo, and seven shots over three teams that are tied for third.

The Sharks' 287 broke the previous first-round record of 290, which they had set in 2013 and equaled last year. It was only the second time any team broke par in any round of the Lady Moc Classic, with Saint Leo the first to do so with a 283 in last year's second round. The Sharks slipped to a 304 in the afternoon, however, with Barry carding the best round with a 296, and two other teams shooting a 298. While no one was able to catch the Sharks, it created a logjam behind them with the next eight teams separated by only seven strokes.

Florida Southern, which is ranked No. 10, was not among that group, but the Moccasins weren't far behind them. Their rounds of 303 and 304, normally good for at least the top-five, put them in 11th place at +31. While that was 16 shots behind front-running Nova Southeastern, it had the Mocs within 10 shots of second-place Saint Leo even that far down the standings. It dropped off a bit after Florida Southern though, with the Mocs five ahead of 12th-place UNC Pembroke and 16 ahead of 13th-place Embry-Riddle.

Nova Southeastern's first-place score was +15, Saint Leo was at +21, while No. 4 Barry, No. 13 Lynn, and No. 22 Tampa were tied for third at +22. No. 18 Florida Tech was only one shot behind that group at +23.

Sitting at the top of the player leaderboard was Rollins' Seher Atwal with a four-under-par 140 (69-71). She was one of three golfers Monday to have a 69 in one round or another, with Nova's Sofia Garcia Austt doing it in the first round and Tampa's Kiira Riihijarvi doing it in the second. Those were the top three golfers too, with Austt and Riihijarvi tied for second at two-under-par 142. Lynn's Helen Kreuzer was fourth at even-par 144 and was tied with Austt for the tournament lead with nine birdies. That was one more than Riihijarvi and Florida Tech's Paola Ortiz.

Florida Southern was led by junior Amanda Gartrell, who was tied for 11th with a 148 (+4). She opened the tournament with a 70 before shooting a 78 in round two that was not counted in the Mocs' team score. Even in 11th place as a team, Florida Southern was the only team in the field to have all five of its golfers in the 70s for both rounds.

In Monday's first round, the Mocs got a pair of 77s from senior Tori Higgins and sophomore Shelby Lewis, and a pair of 79s from freshman Loren Perez and senior Madi Wetzel. While they were 16 shots behind Nova Southeastern at that point, the Moccasins matched the Sharks with a 304 in round two that included a 75 from Higgins, 76s from Lewis and Perez, and a 77 from Wetzel.

None of those scores were the Mocs' best of the afternoon, however. Playing as an individual, sophomore Ashley Zagers turned in a 72 that pushed her up to a tie for 18th place with an overall score of 150 (+6). Gartrell was the only other Moccasin golfer ahead of her at the end of the day, and Zagers was second among the 18 players competing as individuals. Nova Southeastern's Aldana Foigel was at the top of that list with a 146 (+2) following two rounds of 73.

Higgins was tied for 31st with a 152 (+8), Lewis was tied for 39th with a 153 (+9), Perez was tied for 48th with a 155 (+11), and Wetzel was tied for 54th with a 156 (+12).

In addition to Zagers, Florida Southern had three other golfers competing as individuals with freshman Hanna Rizzolo shooting a 161 (78-83), freshman Hayley Musselman shooting a 165 (83-82), and freshman Nathalie Svensson shooting a 172 (87-85).

While Foigel and Zagers were the best in the field among those competing separate from their teams, it was another individual who had the best shot of the day. Foigel's Nova Southeastern teammate Hanna Ahlander aced No. 10 in round two, a short par-3 covering 110 yards. It was the sixth hole-in-one in the tournament's 21-year history, but the first since 2008 and the first since the Lady Moc Classic moved to Grasslands Golf & Country Club in 2014. West Florida's Meaghan Gulliksen had recorded the most recent hole-in-one at Cleveland Heights.

Round three of the Lady Moc Classic gets underway with a shotgun start Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. The top three teams will go off holes one, two, and three, and Florida Southern will go off 11, 12, and 13, with Moccasin individuals starting on 16, 17, and 18.