Golfweek Red Sky Classic: Northern Arizona right at home at altitude in Colorado mountains
Even as the winds picked up in Vail, Colorado, Northern Arizona didn't give up a bit of ground.
VAIL, Colo. — Even as the winds picked up across Red Sky Golf Club’s Fazio Course Monday, Northern Arizona didn’t give up a bit of ground.
Altitude is nothing new for the women from Flagstaff, Arizona, though this kind of mountainous landscape is a bit more extreme.
“If you would have told me we were tied for the lead after one round, I would be thrilled,” Northern Arizona head coach Brad Bedortha said. “Nice to see our team go out and compete.”
NAU played the opening round at Red Sky in 9 under to take an immediate share of the lead at the Golfweek Red Sky Classic. That was thanks in large part to a back-nine 31 from Eliska Kocourkova, who started on No. 10 with a bogey then fired off four birdies in a row before making a hole-in-one at the par-3 17th, a picturesque short hole with a huge elevation drop.
“Definitely exceeded our expectations for today,” said Bedortha. “We got off to a great start. The girls were making birdies right out the gate.”
East Tennessee State is also at 9 under and with star performances of their own. Sara Hasegawa eagled the par-5 18th, her ninth hole of the day, for an opening 70 to go along with rounds of 67 from Tereza Melecka and 69 from Hollie Muse.
“The Fazio Course at Red Sky is an amazing course and it was fun watching the ladies attack it today,” head coach Stefanie Shelton said. “It can be a tricky setup with some of the pin positions, so the next two days will be a challenge I’m sure.”
Both teams lead Brigham Young University, which was the on-paper favorite entering the tournament after back-to-back victories in its first two fall starts at the Dick McGuire Invitational and the Mercedes Benz Collegiate. Two “local” teams fared well on the first day, as well. Denver and Colorado are both part of a tie for fourth, along with Central Arkansas, at 5 under.
Denver’s Anna Zanusso, who competed at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, is the defending champion but opened with 1-over 73. Teammate Anna Cathrine Krekling fired a 6-under 66 good for a share of the individual lead with BYU’s Kerstin Fotu.
The event at Red Sky is in its 12th playing after not being played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional conference challenge aspect changed this year to feature a wider field. Interestingly, the defending Division II national champion Dallas Baptist is in the Division I field this week and in a share of the 13th after a 5-over 293 to open the week.
2020 – No event
2019 – Ole Miss, 15-under 849
2018 – UCLA, 32-under 832
2017 – Denver, 8-over 872
2016 – San Diego State, 2-over 866
2015 – San Diego State, 6-under 858
2014 – Pepperdine, 2-under 862
2013 – Pepperdine, 5-over 869
2012 – Pepperdine, 4-under 860
2011 – Oklahoma, 35-over 899
2010 – Virginia, 13-over 877
2009 – Pepperdine, 17-over 881
2020 – No event
2019 – Anna Zanusso, Denver (11-under 205)
2018 – Mariel Galdiano, UCLA (13-under 203)
2017 – Haley Moore, Arizona (7-under 209)
2016 – Marlene Krolboll Hansen, Coastal Carolina (9-under 207)
2015 – Emma Henrikson, San Diego State (10-under 206)
2014 – Marissa Chow, Pepperdine (6-under 210)
2013 – Grace Na, Pepperdine (6-under 210)
2012 – Demi Runas, UC Davis (7-under 209)
2011 – Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Oklahoma (1-over 217)
2010 – Brittany Altomare, Virginia (4-under 212)
2009 – Caroline Hedwall, Oklahoma State (9-under 207)