March 29, 2013
Junior Rene Soblewski shot a career-best three-under par, 69, and paced the Commodores to a fast start at one of the nation's toughest tournaments on Friday at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C. Sobolewski is in second place after her stellar first round on the individual leader board, while the Commodores are in second place after firing a team total of 286 on the first day of the tournament.
Sobolewski, who carded four birdies in her opening round at the Bryan Park Champions Course, trails individual leader Elizabeth Brightwell of Virginia by one stroke, while the Commodores as a team trail the Cavaliers by five strokes in the team standings.
"I stayed more present today," said Sobolewski. "I spoke with Marina (Alex) the other day, and she talked about two or three-under having to be the new norm because the competition is so fierce on the professional side. So, I thought about that out there. I just focused on getting around that score because I felt there are only 15 or 20 golfers in the field who could do that, and it just so happened that I stood over a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 69. I hit a good putt and it went in.
"I hit some really good drives today and had shorter iron shots," said Sobolewski when asked about the keys to her first-round score. "I had not been hitting the ball as well and was short on both my drives and iron shots, and was having to club up. But today, I hit the ball really well and put myself into good situations."
The Commodores also received even-par 72's from Kendall Martindale and Lauren Stratton, and counted a 73 from Jenny Hahn. Irina Gabasa fired a first-round 74. Martindale and Stratton are in a tie for ninth, Hahn in a tie for 15th, and Gabasa a tie for 24th.
As a team, Vanderbilt finished their last seven holes as a team in fine fashion, with two birdies coming from Gabasa and Martindale, and one from Sobolewski. VU only had one bogey combined over that same span.
"I'm really proud off their effort from top to bottom," said Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen. "They did all of the little things well. They made three, four, and five foot putts today when we needed them, and we didn't make a ton of big numbers. They all looked really well and confident and it's really fun right now. They're doing a lot of things right - their mental state of mind is great. They are thinking all of the right things and we're playing well when we need to play well - at the end of March and heading into postseason play.
"I'm really happy for Rene today," continued Allen. "Making birdie on her last hole was huge, but she was great all day. Kendall made a couple of bogeys early, but made birdies down the stretch. Stratty hung on after a fast start, Irina had a great finish, and Jenny was steady. It was a total team effort."
Vanderbilt has an eight-stroke lead on North Carolina and Arkansas, who are each tied for third with a six-over par, 294.
The second round of the tournament continues on Saturday morning, with live scoring available on Golfstat.com.