Race is on for OVC women's golf title; Tennessee Tech third after first round

LONDON, Ky. -- A tight race is shaping up for the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Women's Golf Championship, and Tennessee Tech is in the hunt after the first round Thursday at the Crooked Creek Golf Course. The Golden Eagles are in third place, just six strokes off the pace of leader Murray State. In fact, seven of the eight teams are bunched with 12 shots of the top.

A senior from Riverwatch, Tenn., Denman fashioned a 77 Thursday to put her in a three-way tie for fourth place. The Golden Eagles have four players in the Top 20. Junior Megan Bradford tied for 11th place at 79, while sophomore Carley Rhyne and senior Ashley Spangler are tied for 19th at 81.

Murray State led from the first green, and finished the day with a 312 team total, giving the Lady Racers a four-shot edge on Austin Peay (316). Tech is next with a 318, followed closely by defending champion Jacksonville State (319), Morehead State (320), Eastern Kentucky (322) and Eastern Ilinois (324). Only eighth place Tennessee State is out of the running after shooting 407 Thursday.

EIU's Carrie Riordan is the individual leader with a 74, while Laura Cutler from JSU and Joyce Trus of Murray State are two shots back. Denman is next, tied at 77 with Staci Lynch and Catie Tucker of APSU.

Bradford, who owns Tech's best average this season,is one of seven players tied for 11th at 79. Rhyne and Spangler are among five players tied for 19th place at 81. Also in the field for Tech, junior Diana Carson is tied for 35th place after carding a first round 90.

Bradford led Tech with three birdies Thursday, hile Denman had two birdies, both coming on par five holes. Denman and Rhyne each managed 10 pars in their first turn around the course.

The second round is slated to tee off Friday at 8 a.m. EST, with the final round scheduled for Saturday morning.