Texas A&M head coach Trelle McCombs said after Friday's opening round of the SEC Women's Golf Championship at the Greystone Golf & Country Club on the Legacy Course in Hoover, Alabama that her team had never played in conditions as they had earlier in the day.
A steady day-long downpour resulted in six hour rounds and golfers fighting for every shot.
The Aggies did not seem to mind the conditions as they battled their way to 5-over 293 to put themselves in a three-way tie for first-place with Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
"These were absolutely the worst conditions by far," McCombs said. "We haven't seen these types of conditions all year. I just got done talking to the team and told them how proud I was. They fought and battled and no one complained"
In addition to the weather conditions, this was the first time the SEC Championships were on the Legacy course. Combine those two factors with teams not being able to complete a practice round the day before, and Friday turned into a day of feeling out the course.
"Today was about just getting comfortable with the conditions," McCombs said. "They now will know a little more of how the ball reacts. I feel like today was about hitting it in the smart places. It was one of those days were you take par when you need to and go after pins when you can."
The Aggies were led by sophomore Bianca Fabrizio, who sits tied for second with a 2-under 70.
"Bianca has grown so much from this time last year," McCombs said. "She was playing scared last year and far below her expectations. Her growth has come in to where she can handle so much more. She made a double-bogey and still shot 2-under in those conditions. She birdied the next hole and then had an unbelievable par on 17. She handled it like a champ. She is pretty underrated but she's like that little kid in the back that you don't want to forget about her."
Fabrizio's double-bogey was the Aggies only one of the day, which McCombs credited to the dynamics of her team. On a day when the conditions were as bad as they were, limiting the damage was key.
"I was able to come out here last week and chart the course," she said. "I stopped them on the fairway (Thursday) and told them if you trust me, I will tell you exactly where you need to hit it to put the ball in play and if you miss, you will still be fine. I think that's where we have such a good dynamic on the team. They trust me and I trust them."
What made the Aggies performance even more impressive was that their top two golfers had what they would consider to be, off-days.
Freshman Maddie Szeryk who entered the championships ranked No. 22 in the nation shot a 1-over 73 and is tied for 11 and sophomore Marijosse Navarro, the No. 4 player in the country finished with a 2-over 74. Navarro's round was her fourth worst of the season, yet she is still tied for 17 and in contention only seven strokes back from the leader, Vanderbilt's Jenny Hahn who shot a 5-under 67.
Tennessee head coach Judith Pavon was extremely pleased with her teams round, especially considering the conditions.
"We played a really solid round," she said. "The conditions were terrible. Our girls were able to battle them and play like we normally play. We really made a lot of birdies."
In fact, they finished day one with 15 birdies, more than any other team.
"Whenever our girls made a mistake, they bounced right back," Pavon said. "That kept them in their rounds playing well all day long."
The Volunteers were led by sophomore Lucia Polo who finished with a 1-under 71 and is tied for sixth. Polo has been working on her putting a lot in the recent weeks, Pavon said and it paid off Friday.
"She has been really getting good reads," Pavon said. "She has been getting them close, they just haven't been dropping. Today she made five birdies and gained some putts. She played the lines she intended."
Pavon knows that with a 14-team field in which eight are ranked in the top-20, the No. 14 Volunteers have just as good of a chance as anyone to bring home the title.
"I am really happy with where we are at," she said. "When you play well, you hope to be rewarded and we were really happy with where were at."
Not to be outdone, the Vanderbilt Commodores did it both individually Friday and as a team.
Junior Jenny Hahn holds a 3-stroke lead after the first round with a 5-under 67. She finished the day with one bogey and six birdies. Her 67 tied for her lowest round of the season.
Hahn's key to success was dominating the par-4s. She finished the round 5-under with a scoring average of 3.50 on those holes.
She carries plenty of momentum over into day two as she concluded her round with birdies on her final two holes.
Hahn led the Commodores who did not card a double-bogey or higher all round.
Teammate Kendall Martingale used a strong first nine holes to pave the way to finish even on the day. She went on a run with three birdies in four holes on No. 15-18.
The Commodores did their damage on the back nine. They combined for a 7-over on the front nine and a 2-under on the back nine.
Continue to follow along with live stats from day two tomorrow by clicking here.