ANACONDA — The Montana women’s golf team shot rounds of 300 and 299 as the Grizzlies’ fall season opened on Mondayhttp://buttesports.com/wp-admin/post-new.php at the Battle at Old Works in Anaconda.
Junior Baylee Barckley shot rounds of 70 and 72 on the par-72 course and leads the 46-player field at 2-under.
Senior Butte High graduate Hailey Hoagland, who opened with a 78, shot a second-round 69, just the ninth sub-70 round in program history. She is tied for 11th.
Montana is in sixth place in the tight eight-team field, 15 strokes off the lead of North Dakota State, which shot a 284 for the opening round before coming in at 300 for the second.
Cal State Northridge (291-297) is in second, Santa Clara (300-291) is in third, Cal State Fullerton (299-296) is in fourth and Eastern Washington (299-299) is sitting fifth.
“It was a tough 36 holes. It was a hot, windy, long day,” said interim head coach Kris Nord, whose team posted two scores on Monday that the Grizzlies reached just once in 30 rounds last year, on a course that played longer than any of those faced in 2016-17.
“I thought the girls really hung in there well. It was solid golf and fun to watch. I thought we were going to be sub-300 in both, and we came real close. There are a couple of kids who can play better, so there is a lot of upside.”
Barckley shot more rounds in the 80s last year than in the 70s. On Monday she looked more like the player who tied for fifth at the Big Sky Conference championship as a freshman two years ago.
She had five birdies in the opening round on her way to a 70, her best collegiate round by two strokes. On her second round, she was sitting 2-over through nine holes, then went birdie, birdie, birdie on Nos. 4, 5 and 6. A late bogey brought her in with a 72 and the 36-hole lead.
Hoagland, who three times in her career has carded a 72, posted a pair of double bogeys in her opening round. On her second 18, she shot one of five sub-70 rounds on the day, with four birdies and one bogey.
“And that could have been a 65 or 66 had she made a few more putts,” said Nord.
Montana’s stroke leader last year, senior Kari Opatz shot rounds of 77 and 77, and is sitting in 28th place.
Freshman Faith D’Ortenzio opened her collegiate career with a 75 before carding an 81 for the second round. Caylyn Villatora (82-79) and Teigan Avery (80-85) also competed for Montana.
“I thought off the tee we were really solid, but I think we can putt better,” said Nord. “Other than that, I thought it was solid play.
“There are a couple of holes where you can shoot a high score, and we did in a couple of instances, so we’ll try to avoid that tomorrow, but overall I was real happy. It’s a lot of focus for 10 hours.”
Six golfers will enter Tuesday’s final 18 holes within six shots of Barckley. Santa Clara’s Chloe Wong (72-71) and North Dakota State’s Natalie Roth (73-70) are both sitting 1-under.
— Montana Sports Information