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Herbert Grinds Out Solid Start at National Championship

christina herbert hits off the 17th tee box

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. - Bridgewater College senior Christina Herbert started her NCAA Division III national championship title defense on Tuesday. After a slow start on the El Campeon course at Mission Inn Resort, Herbert rallied to close the first round with a 4-over par score of 77, placing her inside the top-10 among 130 competitors.

Herbert, who claimed the 2017 National Championship at Bay Oaks Golf Club in Houston, Texas, was only one over par after dropping a five-foot downhill birdie putt on the short par-4 fourth hole, but she gave up four shots on the next two holes. On both the 5th and 6th holes she hooked her tee shots, had to lay up short of the green, and then three-putted for a pair of double-bogies that took her to five over par.

"I got a little aggressive on my first putts, trying to minimize the damage, but I accidentally gave up a couple more shots," said Herbert about her three-putts on the 5th and 6th holes. "At that point I knew it was time to get something going."

Herbert bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 7th hole. Another three-putt on the par-3 8th took her back to 5-over, where she stayed when she made the turn to the more scoring-friendly back-nine which features three par-5 holes and a short par-3.

One of only six individuals to qualify to compete among the 25 teams at the national championship, Herbert rallied on the back nine and moved up the leaderboard. She narrowly missed an ace on the par-3 15th and tapped in for birdie, almost following it up with a 10-foot attempt on the 16th hole. On the par-5 17th hole, Herbert's 100-yard approach from a divot spun around the hole, and she rammed in the remaining 3-foot putt, dropping her to 3-over par.

An errant tee ball on #18 led to a chip out, and the defending champion ended up having to make a 7-foot downhill slider on the final green just to save a bogey. Her final tally of 77 moved Herbert into a tie for sixth, four shots off the lead, held by Charlotte Simpson of Carnegie Mellon University.

"This round was a bit of a roller-coaster ride," said Bridgewater head coach John Rogers. "The double-bogies early in the round were uncharacteristic of Christina, but she played the back-nine under par and has kept herself in position. A four-day championship on a tough course is a battle of attrition, and she knows how to keep herself in the mix. It was fun watching her develop some momentum as the round went on."

Herbert played in a "featured pairing" with the 2016 national champion, Caroline Ordian of Redlands University (78 today), and Jane Hopkinson-Wood (75) of Wittenberg University, who is ranked third in the nation.

In the team championship the squads from Claremont Mudd Scripps and Williams College both posted 311 to open a ten-stroke lead on the field. Playing on the ODAC's first-ever Automatic Qualifier, the Generals of Washington & Lee shot 339 to finish the first round in 15th place.

Herbert will start the second round on the 10th tee at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday. Live scoring is available on Golfstat: http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=player&tid=14622