SEDONA, Ariz. — Montana senior Hailey Hoagland shot an opening-round 69 on Saturday, matching her best collegiate score and coming within one of the program record, as the two-day, three-round Red Rocks Invitational got underway at Oakcreek Country Club. (Results)
The Grizzlies shot rounds of 313 and 323, and are sitting in ninth place out of 18 teams on a course that didn’t allow a single team to score better than 300 on Saturday.
“It’s a tough course. It’s not very long, but there is a lot of trouble out there,” said coach Kris Nord. “The biggest factor is the greens are real hard, so it’s tough to hold the ball on the greens.
“You had to be putting well to score. And then the winds came up pretty big in the second round. It got pretty nasty at times.”
But Hoagland, a Butte High graduate, tamed the course in the morning round, including an eagle when she holed out from 148 yards on a par 4. Her 69 was one of only two scores better than 73 on the par-72 course by the 94-golfer field in the first two rounds.
Though she didn’t start at the first hole, Hoagland played the front nine at 31.
“Hailey hit the ball really well all day, but she putted better in the morning,” said Nord. “Her 31 on the front nine was ridiculously good, and her 69 was remarkable.”
Hoagland’s 69 was one of only three sub-80 rounds carded by the Grizzlies on Saturday. Senior Kari Opatz shot a 79 in the opening round, sophomore Teigan Avery played a 79 in the afternoon.
Hoagland shot an 84 in the second round. After holding the lead after 18 holes, she is tied for ninth through 36.
“She really didn’t play that bad in the second round,” said Nord. “The putts didn’t drop, and she had a few mistakes, and that’s amplified by the course.”
Opatz (79-80) is tied for 35th, junior Baylee Barckley (81-80) is tied for 50th, Avery (85-79) is tied for 62nd, and freshman Faith D’Ortenzio (84-85) is tied for 78th.
Northern Arizona (300-304) holds the 36-hole lead by three strokes over the College of Charleston (301-306) and six over Grand Canyon (303-307).
NAU’s Sofia Anokhina (73-69) is seven strokes clear of anyone else in the field as the tournament concludes with 18 holes on Sunday.
“It’s really a matter of having a real conservative target to the greens,” said Nord about his team’s focus for the final round. “The girls have a better idea where to miss.
“The greens are hard, so if you’re flying it, a lot of times you bounce off. But a lot of the greens are elevated, so if you don’t fly it into the green, you’re going to roll down 50 yards. And it’s even more problematic when the wind’s blowing.”
— Montana Sports Information