SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Maddison Hinson-Tolchard’s putt grabbed the lower lip of the cup before trickling in, bringing her teammates and orange-clad fans above the 18th green to a roar.
The junior at Oklahoma State hit an excellent approach shot into the par-5 closing hole, her final of the first round at the 2023 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club. Her putt tried to miss the cup, but it found its way in for her third straight birdie to close out the day.
The Cowgirls sit on top of the leaderboard at Grayhawk after the morning wave, shooting 8-under 280. Hinson-Tolchard, the Big 12 individual champion, is also leading, firing a 6-under 66, the lowest round in an NCAA Championship in school history.
“It was just steady,” Hinson-Tolchard said. “I didn’t even feel like I had a 66. Sunk a couple of really good putts and just kept myself in it.”
The best part is, Hinson-Tolchard didn’t realize she had the individual lead until told so after her round. One of the players in second? Her teammate, Rina Tatematsu, who shot a 4-under 68.
In 2021, the first year of three straight NCAA Championships at Grayhawk, Oklahoma State found itself in the match play final going up against Ole Miss. Hinson-Tolchard and Tatematsu were freshman and in the lineup. Hinson-Tolchard even won her match against Ole Miss, but the Cowgirls’ lost.
Last year, they returned to Grayhawk but finished 19th of 24 teams, missing the Monday cut to 15. That has been motivation all season.
“They’ve talked about wanting to get back, and it’s good to see them playing well,” Oklahoma State coach Greg Robertson said. “They were a big part of our success that week, but I’m happy with the way they started off.”
Clouds lingered above Scottsdale all morning and winds were calm, and Oklahoma State took advantage. Georgia, which also started in the morning wave, is the closest chaser at 2 under. Duke shot even par and was third of teams to tee off in the morning.
Texas Tech’s Shannon Tan matched Tatematsu with a 4-under 68.
However, it’s Hinson-Tolchard and the Cowgirls leading the way, and there’s plenty of motivation to continue after the strong start.
“It was a bummer not making it to match play last year,” Hinson-Tolchard said. “It was a huge motivation to get back. We want that feeling again.”
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Golfweek…