ELGIN, S.C. – The South Atlantic Conference's best golfers descended upon The Members Club at Woodcreek in Elgin for the first round of the 2018 SAC Women's Golf Championship on Sunday, but the weather, rather than the golf, became the day's biggest storyline.
Anticipating a line of severe thunderstorms passing through the area, tournament officials elected to alter the format to double tees. Winds gusted to over 30 miles per hour throughout the day, creating incredibly challenging conditions on the par-72, 5,830-yard layout. With lightning on the way and active tornado watches in multiple Midlands counties, the final groups finished their rounds under threatening skies with about 10 minutes to spare before the skies opened.
Wingate, led by SAC Golfer of the Year Diana McDonald and Coach of the Year Erin Thorne, finished the day in the lead by six strokes at 22 strokes over par. Three Bulldogs finished the day inside the top six; Mind Puangcharoen landed in a tie for the lead at three over par.
The Bulldogs' Cristina Cassanella was in fifth at five over, with McDonald in a six-way tie for sixth one stroke further back.
Tusculum was second and Anderson third at 28 and 29 strokes over par, respectively. The Pioneers' Cydney Murrell finished the round with a share of the lead, with Katie Tommassoni at six over. Anderson placed three scorers in the top 14, led by Kate Hill in fourth place at four over.
Queens, paced by co-leader Cameryn Smith, and Lincoln Memorial finished in a tie for fourth place at 35 strokes over par. Three other teams ended their day within 20 strokes of the leaders.
Teams will begin teeing off at 8:30 a.m. for Monday's second round. Tournament play concludes on Tuesday.