by Benny Benton
OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. – Although the Barton College women's golf team ranked 10th overall among 17 teams competing in the first round of the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate on Monday, the Lady Bulldogs could take some solace in producing the best score of five Conference Carolinas programs in the field.
Led by a team-best round of 78 from sophomore Maria Garcia and a career-low round of 81 from sophomore Kelsey Woodall, Barton delivered a combined score of 327 on the Lion's Paw course at Ocean Ridge Plantation.
The Lady Bulldogs finished three shots ahead of league foe University of Mount Olive, four shots ahead of both Belmont Abbey College and Emmanuel College, and 22 shots ahead of Pfeiffer University.
Barton rests three strokes behind ninth-place Newberry College and six behind eighth-place Lincoln Memorial University.
University of West Georgia leads the tournament with a score of 299, which is nine shots ahead of two other teams, UNC Pembroke and Lenoir-Rhyne University.
Garcia, a resident of Alcobendas, Spain, posted her second-best round of the year with the 78, which tied for 22nd overall in the field of 91 players. Woodall, a resident of Chester, Md., matched or lowered her career-low score for the third straight tournament with the 81, which placed her 43rd overall.
Freshman Nikki Norlin bounced back from a 44 on her opening nine holes with a 39 on the final nine to close at 83, which tied for 51st. Barton also received an 85 from sophomore Sydney Turner, which tied for 58th. The Lady Bulldogs dropped the 92 of freshman Lexie Johnston, which tied for 82nd.
West Georgia's Maria Torres leads the tournament by three shots after carding a 2-under par 70 on the 5,916-yard layout.
The contest will conclude with a second round on Tuesday.