Estero, Fla. – Payton Culler had two birdies on the front nine and shot 77 to lead the USC Upstate women’s golf team in the first round of the FGCU Invitational Saturday afternoon at Stoneybrook Country Club.
Culler, a freshman, was joined in the lineup by two other freshman that led Upstate in the closing holes. Eden Howard, playing in her first tournament for Upstate, and Sidney Dermody combined to play the final six holes at 1-under to hold the round together.
Upstate opened the 54-hole tournament with a 329 and is in 11th position, just 10 stroke out of eighth place. Elon leads the tournament after shooting a 292 and is followed on the leaderboard by Xavier (307), Florida Gulf Coast (307), Daytona State (308), Toledo (309), Ohio (311), Southern Illinois (318), Arkansas State (319), Utah Valley (322), Akron (324), Upstate (329), Northern Kentucky (338), Drake (340) and Florida Atlantic (350).
“Overall, I’m pleased that we fought to finish after such a poor start to the round,” said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. “Payton is in a great position in a strong field and played very consistent golf the entire round. Eden overcame a rough few holes to play a good first college round. Bouncing back from bad holes is tough, but we were fortunate to get some of that today.”
Upstate counted scores of 74 from Culler, 79 from Howard, 83 from Dermody and 90 from Rachel Reiling. Allie Gennaula shot 95. Culler posted two birdies on the front and played the front at 1-over. She finished the round with 11 pars as well and will begin her second round tied for 15th. Howard had a birdie and 11 pars during her round, while Dermody had three birdies. Howard will begin the second round tied for 29th.
Elon’s Sunna Vidisdottir leads the tournament after shooting 71.