She stood in the right rough at the par-4 15th hole, contemplating club selection after a bad tee shot. Greta Isabella Voelker considered a 9-iron, settled on a pitching wedge, and aimed toward a flag that was 135 yards away.
As the ball cleared a bunker in front of the green and bounced, Voelker figured “Oh, maybe I have a birdie putt.”
Instead the ball rolled about 30 feet into the cup. Eagle.
That shot helped Voelker finish at 2-under par 70 Monday, two shots off the first-round lead tied for sixth place in the 54-hole NCAA Austin Regional at the University of Texas Golf Club.
Voelker also enabled Texas, the second-seeded team here, to register a 7-under 281, good for first place and a three-stroke lead over top-seeded Arkansas. Michigan State, the No. 3 seed, is four behind Texas.
Six of the 18 schools, as well as three individuals regardless of team placement, advance to the NCAA Championship May 18-23 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
“You can’t win it on the first day, that’s the saying,” Longhorns senior Sophia Schubert said. “You can lose it. You always want to play well every day, but especially the first day, because then you don’t have that added pressure of really pressing on the second and third day. ”
Texas A&M senior Maddie Szeryk leads the tournament at 4-under 68. Four players, including Schubert and Baylor freshman Gurleen Kaur, are at 3-under. Also in that group is Arkansas junior Maria Fassi, ranked No. 2 in the country by Golfstat.
Voelker, a sophomore from Witten, Germany, was Big 12 freshman of the year in 2017 and an all-conference player. Now she’s the Longhorns’ No. 4 player behind all-Big 12 selections Schubert, freshman Kaitlyn Papp (70 on Monday) and sophomore Emilee Hoffman (72).
Having endured a bit of rough patch this season, Voelker was pleased with her performance.
“I haven’t played that well in a while,” Voelker said.
Putting has been the main problem.
“Greta is a great player,” Texas coach Ryan Murphy said. “When she putts well, she is certainly capable of shooting good scores. That’s kind of been her Achilles’ heel. She’s a tremendous ball striker.”
Voelker said she did not putt exceptionally well on Monday, her best effort a 15-footer for birdie at the par-3 12th.
She made three birdies and three bogeys in addition to the eagle, which Voelker said was one of five or six during her college career but the first on a par-4 hole. Voelker’s eagle left her at 3-under, a score she maintained until the 18th. There she hit her approach, another pitching wedge, over the green, leaving herself a chip to a surface that sloped downhill. She hit the ball nearly 15 feet past the hole and two-putted for bogey.
“My second shot was terrible,” Voelker said. “I think that because I haven’t played that well, I got a little nervous on the last hole. I think even though I made a bogey, it was a good bogey for that mistake.”
NCAA Austin regional
Monday-Wednesday, UT Golf Club. The top six teams and three individuals not affiliated with those six teams advance to the NCAA Championship (May 18-23, Stillwater, Okla.).
Teams (seeds in parentheses) — (1) Arkansas, (2) Texas, (3) Michigan State, (4) Florida, (5) Auburn, (6) Oklahoma, (7) Houston, (8) Miami, (9) Baylor, (10) Texas A&M, (11) BYU, (12) East Carolina, (13) Texas Tech, (14) Virginia Tech, (15) UTSA, (16) Georgetown, (17) Houston Baptist, (18) Missouri State
Participating individuals — Brigitte Dunn, SMU; Xiaolin Tian, Maryland; Greta Bruner, TCU; Katrina Prendergast, Colorado State; Ellen Secor, Colorado State; Faith Summers, SMU
1. Texas, 281
2. Arkansas, 284
3. Michigan State, 285
T4. Virginia Tech, 288
T4. Baylor, 288
T6. BYU, 291
T6. Florida, 291
8. Auburn, 292
9. Texas A&M, 295
T10. UTSA, 298
T10. Miami, 298
1. Maddie Szeryk, Texas A&M — 68
T2. Sophia Schubert, Texas — 69
T2. Maria Fassi, Arkansas — 69
T2. Megan Thothong, Houston — 69
T2. Gurleen Kaur, Baylor — 69
Note: Nine are tied for sixth at 70, including Texas’ Greta Isabella Voelker and Kaitlyn Papp