Women’s golf tied for third after first round of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate
You would have a hard time believing it was the first round of collegiate golf for freshmen Jessica Welch and Natalie Schmett.

The newest members of the JU women’s golf team starred in their opening round, with Welch shooting a two-under par, 70, and Schmett carding an even-par, 72, to lead the Dolphins into a tie for third entering the final round of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate.

As a team, JU carded a four-over par, 292, in the first round to trail tournament host Western Carolina by two shots. Louisiana-Monroe’s Jennifer Park leads the individual competition after shooting a four-under par, 68.

“I’m really pleased with how well we played today,” said JU head coach Mike Blackburn. “The one thing that impressed me the most was that everyone came off the course talking about the number of shots they left out there today.

“It’s a great start to our season and to be in contention entering the final day with a young group like this will be a tremendous experience.”

Welch, a former state champion from Lavonia, Ga., had her first collegiate round deep in the red numbers at one point, getting to four-under par before carding a two-under par, 70, which has her tied for third. She had the third highest birdie total in the first round, rolling in six.

Schmett, a former state champion from Evansville, Ind., opened her collegiate career with a rock steady even-par, 72, to tie for seventh. Welch and Schmett were two of the 12 players to shoot par or better in the opening round.

Junior transfer Gaia Olcese carded a one-over par, 73, and is tied for 13th. Seniors Morgan Jackson and Alison Cornell each carded a five-over par, 77, to tie for 58th. Olcese tied for third with the most pars in the round with 13.

The Dolphins will tee off in the final round on Tuesday morning.