SAINT LEO, FL – Sophomore Ashley Zagers opened the Saint Leo Invitational with a career-best one-under par 71, and combined with her teammates to give Florida Southern 12 birdies in the round as the 5th-ranked Moccasins ended day one just two shots behind 4th-ranked Barry with a team score of 295.
The 71 by Zagers had her in a three-way tie for second, three shots behind Tampa's Kiira Riihijarvi. Junior Amanda Gartrell and freshman Loren Perez were also among the front-runners with scores of 73 and 74 respectively, but Barry inched ahead with its top three golfers shooting a 71, 72, and 73. The fourth counter for each team had a 77, with the Moccasins getting that score from both senior Tori Higgins and freshman Nathalie Svensson.
Among the last to tee off, the Moccasins jumped right into the lead when they did behind birdies from Perez on No. 2 and No. 3. Zagers was already on the course and had parred her first five holes before making the turn at one-under following her first two birdies on eight and nine. Barry was able to make up ground behind Josefina Torres and Tilda Larsson, and eventually claimed the lead when Larsson turned at two-under.
Florida Southern was six-over halfway through the day and saw that score fall off by only one shot in the second half of the round. Zagers was even on the back nine with a pair of birdies and a pair of bogeys, while Perez was one-under, with each of them dropping in four birdies in the round. That gave Zagers a 71 and Perez a 74, but Gartrell squeezed between them with a 73 after two birdies of her own, the second one coming on No. 17.
The Mocs' remaining birdies were recorded by Svensson, including one on 17, which Gartrell and Perez also birdied, giving Florida Southern 12 as a team. The only team which had more than Florida Southern was Tampa with 13, but the Spartans had a triple-bogey among their counters, and that proved decisive in the standings at the end of the day when they ended up in third place with a 298, three shots behind the Moccasins.
The top five teams are within nine shots of first, with Barry at 293, Florida Southern at 295, Tampa at 298, 3rd-ranked Nova Southeastern at 301, and West Florida at 302.
Riihijarvi blistered the course for Tampa with five birdies on the front nine and two more on the back before finishing at four-under. Zagers, Torres, and Flagler's Pauline Tainton are all three shots back at -1, and Alive Gotbring of Barry is fifth at even-par 72. Gartrell is one of five golfers who are tied for sixth place with 73s, and Perez is tied for 11th.
Svensson and Higgins are tied for 22nd, giving all five Moccasins in the lineup scores of 77 or better. West Florida and tournament host Saint Leo also had all five of their golfers in the 70s, but Saint Leo's best score was a 75, putting the 7th-ranked in seventh place with a 306 team score.
The tournament concludes Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club.