Mercer leads after first round of Courtyard Classic
Mercer took advantage of ideal scoring conditions to take the lead after the first round of the Courtyard Classic at Hidden Hills Country Club.

The Bears posted a team total of 296, eight-over par led by Lacey Fears, who carded a one-under par 71 to lead the individual competition.

Host Jacksonville sits in second place, 10 shots back at 306, led by freshmen Natalie Schmett and Jessica Welch – who each shot a four-over par 76.

“We’re making progress,” said JU head coach Ashley Prange. “We are in contention after one round and the team knows that are low scores out there. If we keep giving ourselves opportunities, the putts will drop.”

Fears posted the only round under, going two-under par on the back nine to take a three-shot lead over Daytona State’s Erin Selfridge and teammate Aurelie Wiriath. Selfridge had the best back nine of the day, going three-under par after starting off five-over par on the front.

JU finished strong, with three birdies on the final hole – most notably by Welch, who birdied the 17th and 18th to post her 76, which is tied for sixth place, five shots out of the lead. Schmett failed to make a birdie on her round en route to tying Welch.

Just a shot back were Dolphin veterans Francesca Yong and Morgan Jackson. They each posted a five-over par 77 to tie for 11th, with Jackson rolling in a 10-foot birdie on the 18th.

Gaia Olcese shot a seven-over par 79, good enough for 19th place thanks to a chip-in birdie at the last.

Playing as individuals, Allison Cornell carded an eight-over par 80 to tie for 20th while Carly Gehlhausen tied for 23rd at nine-over par, 81.

The second round begins on Monday morning at 8 a.m., with the final round teeing off on Tuesday morning.