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Lady'Backs start strong at NCAA Central Regional
        NORMAL, Ill. - An opening round 308 put the University of Arkansas women's golf team in good spirits after the first day of play at the 2004 NCAA Central Regional Championship in Normal, Ill., Thursday.
        Conditions were windy and temperatures reached 91 at the University Golf Course in Normal, by mid-morning Thursday. The Lady Razorbacks were in an early group and finished just as temps reached their peak for the day.
        "Overall, I thought we played well," said Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester. "Our scores were close and we played with a lot of confidence today. I feel like we can make a move in the next couple of days and we'll just see what happens."
        The Lady Razorbacks battled 15-20 mph winds on the more difficult back nine to start the day. El Dorado, Ark., native Amanda McCurdy and The Woodlands, Texas, senior Melissa Murray were both at plus five to start the day. McCurdy finished as the team's leader with an even front nine to end at plus-five 76 on the first day.
        Sophomore Courtney Mahon was at plus-three followed by junior transfer Sarah Trew at plus four through nine holes. Mahon finished with a six-over 77 for the afternoon.
        Trew was in the clubhouse first for Arkansas finishing the day with a six-over 77. Trew birdied three, a dog-leg right, and sank her putt to drop a stroke on the final nine holes.
        Murray rounded out the Arkansas scores with a seven over 78 for the Lady Razorbacks. She parred eight of her last nine holes on the day.      
        Junior Gena Johnson, a Hot Springs, Ark., native paced the Lady'Backs and was two over making the turn. Johnson had three bogies and one birdie in the opening holes of play.
        Johnson birdied the par three 17th hole carrying the water to the green where she punched in picking up a stroke for Arkansas. Johnson finished with a 76 but left the tent failing to sign her scorecard.
        The Lady'Backs' counted Trew's score only giving up two strokes for the miscue.
        "It's unfortunate," said Hester. "Gena feels horrible but we are going to be O.K. It only cost us two strokes and hopefully it won't change our place in the field."
        The 24-team event was far from complete when the Lady Razorbacks left the course with the final group teeing off at 2:00 p.m. Arkansas was tied for eighth place when the first group was finished. Defending Southeastern Conference winner and fifth-ranked Vanderbilt paced the field along with No. 6 New Mexico at 298.
        Number 10 Arizona was third with a 299 followed by defending national champion and eighth-ranked Southern California at 300. Number 21 Michigan State was fifth at 302, followed by No. 27 Missouri at 303, No. 33 Texas A&M at 305 and No. 35 Texas Christian and No. 29 Arkansas with 308.
        Oklahoma, ranked No. 11 was 10th with a 311, No. 16 Tulsa was next at 319 and No. 45 Kansas State was 12th with a 326 when Arkansas left the course.
        Complete results and placement was not yet available but point your browser o www.ladybacks.com for all the latest scores and results.

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