(EDITOR’S NOTE: INFORMATION FROM THE UNIVERSITY)

BOULDER CITY – The Montana women’s golf team opened the Big Sky Conference Championship at the Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nev., with a first-round score of 306 on Friday as the three-day tournament got underway.

On a day when the wind was the story and the scoring reflected it, the Grizzlies’ total has them tied for fourth, just five strokes out of third place.

“It was a great score given the conditions,” said coach Kris Nord, whose team trails only Idaho (296), Portland State (296) and tournament favorite Sacramento State (301).

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“Other than the first couple of holes, it howled pretty much the entire day. It was challenging. The girls hung in there really well.”

Hailey Hoagland, who birdied three of the first five holes to get off to a good start, came in at 75, as did Teigan Avery. Both players are tied for 10th.

Baylee Barckley played the back nine at 1-over to card a 77. Faith D’Ortenzio came off the course with a 79, Kari Opatz an 80.

Hoagland, whose five birdies are tied for the tournament high after one round, was sitting at 3-under after five holes but dropped back to even after consecutive bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11.

A triple bogey at the par-4 15th put Hoagland in the black for the first time in her opening round.

“She got a really bad break on a bounce off a drive that ended up in a bush for an unplayable lie,” said Nord. “She had one bad hole and is still in the thick of it. She kept plugging along and posted a good score. She played some good golf.”

Avery carded two birdies on the back nine to overcome a double bogey at the par-4 ninth. Hoagland and Avery are six strokes behind the leader.

Northern Arizona’s Sofia Anokhina, last year’s champion, holds the opening-day lead after shooting a 3-under 69. She had four birdies and one bogey for her round.

Portland State’s Windy Huang, who shot a 70, and Idaho’s Michelle Kim, who came in at 71, are also under par with 36 holes remaining to be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Montana, which has had five fourth-place finishes in the previous decade, hasn’t placed in the top three at the Big Sky Championship since winning the title in 2006.

“We’d love to see our score go lower tomorrow, but I’m pleased with where we came in today,” said Nord. “We’re in the mix. That’s where we want to be, and we want to stay there.”

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