When Kennesaw State made its first appearance in the Atlantic Sun Women's Golf Championship field - in 2009 - the Owls finished fourth. A year later, they moved up to second and during the final round found themselves atop the leaderboard only to be caught by a record-setting performance by Stetson.
The Owls returned to the site of their first A-Sun Championships, Victoria Hills Golf Club in Stetson's home city of DeLand, Fla. off a successful season that featured the first team victory under the direction of head coach Rhyll Brinesmead; the program's first A-Sun Golfer of the Month - awarded to Ket Preamchuen for November - and a ranking of No. 74 in the latest GolfWeek.com ratings - the best within the A-Sun.
“This [year] is our third competing at the A-Sun,” Brinesmead said. “We were fourth in 2009 and second last year. We’ve progressively moved up, so our goal this year is obviously to come away with the championship,” Brinesmead said.
Monday's first round saw FGCU, Mercer, Campbell and ETSU all hold the lead at various times during the day before the Owls rode a steady back nine performance to emerge from the pack atop the standings for day one. Their team total of 6-over-par 294 tied the lowest first-round score in A-Sun Championship history. History rests in the Owls’s favor as seven of the last eight first-round leaders have gone on to win the A-Sun title. Dating back to the start of the event, 1990, 14 of 21 first-round leaders went on to win the championship.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start – we turned at [6-over par] and maintained that, so a really solid back nine,” Brinesmead said. “Our goal was to come in and get off to a solid start – have a little cushion going in round two.”
A sign of the level where Brinsmead has lifted the program to comes from the fast that although it was only two years ago that the Owls debuted at the A-Sun Championship, the lineup has undergone a complete revamping as none of the players that played in 2009 made up this year’s championship lineup. Brinesmead brought pairs of sophomores and freshmen plus senior Abby Fitzgerald to DeLand this year.
The mostly young team handled early-round stumbles and with two rounds equal or better, the Owls could be flying back north with their first A-Sun crown.
When the second round wraps up, where will Kennesaw State find itself in the standings? We welcome your thoughts in a comments section, at http://twitter.com/atlanticsun or facebook.com/AtlanticSunConference