After posting bogeys on two of the first four holes Friday, Lauren Stratton kept calm and carried on.
The Vanderbilt senior posted five birdies on an 11-hole stretch and finished with 3-under-par 69 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate at Forest Hills Club.
“It was a little bit of a shaky start,” she said. “I just stayed patient. I knew it was going to be a long round.”
Stratton has posted three top-five finishes this season, her best finish being a tie for second in February in Parrish, Fla. With two rounds left today and Sunday, she’ll have to fend off teammate Jenny Hahn and Augusta State’s Natalie Wille, who are tied for second at 70. Purdue’s Laura Gonzalez is three shots off the lead in fourth.
Wille stood at 1-over through 14 holes. The Lady Jaguars senior then birdied No. 15 before hitting wedge shots to 10 feet at Nos. 17 and 18, draining both birdie putts to finish on a high note.
“The first nine wasn’t amazing,” Wille said. “On the last nine I started hitting it pretty good and started making some putts.”
With Hahn and Stratton leading the way, ninth-ranked Vanderbilt – coming off a pair of runner-up finishes – shot 290 and leads Purdue by five shots. Texas sits in third at 299.
“We’ve been playing well this semester,” Stratton said. “We just need to keep the momentum going.”
Augusta State, ranked 88th by Golfstat, is looking for some momentum itself. The Lady Jaguars opened with 305 and is alone in seventh place in the 18-team field. Casey Kennedy posted 76, while Stephanie Bennett added 79. Marit Bjerke and Christine Duschek-Hansen each carded 80.
“It played tough out there,” Augusta State coach Kory Thompson said. “The wind picked up on the second nine, and the greens played firm and fast. The scores are a little higher across the board. So it’s not a bad start. We still have a few days left.”