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May 11, 2006

Browns Summit, N.C. – The No. 23 South Carolina women’s golf team finished Thursday’s first round at the NCAA East Regional Championship played at Bryan Park with an eight-over-par 296 and is tied for sixth on the team leader board, eight strokes behind tournament leaders California and LSU. Carolina’s first-round 296 marked the team’s third-lowest single round of the spring and is the team’s best opening round since the Gamecocks fired a first-round 293 at last year’s NCAA East Regional Championship.

The Gamecocks were led by senior Erica Battle, who matched her season-best round by firing an even-par 72. The Irmo native is tied for 15th on the individual leader board, three strokes behind Alabama’s Jenny Suh, who has sole possession of the lead at three-under. Battle played well right from the start and finished the front nine at four under par after birdies on the course’s second, third, seventh and ninth holes. Though her score leveled out on the back nine, Battle’s low score is significant to the team in that she has typically played her best golf in the second and third rounds of tournaments this spring. Battle’s first-round 72 matched the lowest first-round score of her career and ties for the 11th-lowest round at NCAA Regionals in school history.

Sophomore Laura Raffo was also a leader for the Gamecocks on Thursday, as she stepped up to match the best 18-hole score of her collegiate career by finishing with a one-over-par 73. Raffo found herself at three under par through the first 11 holes, but a double-bogey on 12 followed by a bogey on 13 brought her to even par. The Argentina native regrouped to shoot even par on her next four holes before finishing her day with a bogey on 18. Raffo’s first-round 73 was more than five strokes better than her season stroke average.

Sophomore Blythe Worley continued her recent hot streak with a three-over-par 75 on Thursday. The Greenville, N.C., native enjoyed three birdies and one par during one four-hole stretch on Thursday and was only one shot over par through her first 14 holes. A double-bogey on the par-five 15th hole pushed her to three over before she finished strong with pars on each of the final three holes. Dating back to the SEC Championship, Worley owns a 74.33 stroke average during her last three rounds played.

South Carolina’s two highest-ranked players were also solid Thursday, as sophomore Whitney Simons and junior Jenna Pearson both finished with matching four-over-par 76s. Simons, who knocked in a hole-in-one at last year’s NCAA East Regional, provided a similar highlight Thursday by getting an eagle on the par-five third hole. Pearson was very good on the front nine, posting consecutive birdies on the second and third holes and shooting par on the other seven holes.

Several teams are still on the course, so check back with at the end of the day to see where the Gamecocks stand on both the team and individual leader boards.

Team Leader Board
T1. California: 288 (E)
T1. LSU: 288 (E)
3. Tennessee: 292 (+4)
4. Auburn: 293 (+5)
5. Alabama: 295 (+7)
T6. South Carolina: 296 (+8)
T6. North Carolina: 296 (+8)
T6. Vanderbilt: 296 (+8)
T6. Wake Forest: 296 (+8)
10. Florida State: 297 (+9)
11. Furman: 298 (+10)
T12. NC State: 303 (+15)
T12. Virginia: 303 (+15)
14. Maryland: 305 (+17)
15. Arizona State: 307 (+19)
T16. Augusta State: 308 (+20)
T16. Campbell: 308 (+20)
T16. Yale: 308 (+20)
19. College of Charleston: 309 (+21)
T20. East Carolina: 313 (+25)
T20. Mississippi State: 313 (+25)

South Carolina On The Individual Leader Board
T15. Erica Battle: 72 (E)
T24. Laura Raffo: 73 (+1)
T39. Blythe Worley: 75 (+3)
T50. Jenna Pearson: 76 (+4)
T50. Whitney Simons: 76 (+4)