McDonald is tied for fourth overall and only three shots back of the individual leader.
MSU posted a 12-over-par 300 in the program’s first round of championship competition and is only five strokes back of 10th-place No. 14 Tulane (295, +7) in the tightly-packed field.
The Lady Bulldogs teed off on hole No. 10 at noon and played the more difficult back nine first as the heat index topped 90 degrees in the Athens area.
“We played well today and proved to ourselves that we can compete with the best teams in the nation,” third-year MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. “The heat was a factor today and got to some of the teams but I think we handled it well. To shoot a 300, which is below our season average, on this course in the national championship is very commendable. We have three more rounds to go out and chip our way up the standings. Teeing off in the morning tomorrow should help us get our round in before the heat and humidity are in full force. The rain that fell late today also may make the greens bit softer.”
State tees off at 6:33 a.m. CT Wednesday with temperatures expected to be in the upper 60’s and reach only 80 degrees. MSU will again be paired with No. 5 Arkansas and No. 6 Vanderbilt.
McDonald’s 2-under is her fourth-consecutive round of par or better as she notched a 69-69-68 in her NCAA Central Regional victory.
The sophomore from Fulton, Miss., started strong with birdies on her second (No. 11) and fifth (No. 14) holes of the day before settling in for six straight pars. Her tee shot on the par-3, 178-yard third hole sailed left and forced her only bogey of the day. She negated that bogey with a birdie on No. 5 to post par for the second nine.
“I started getting tired toward the end of the round,” McDonald said. “I think I misread a few putts, but I didn’t ever really start striking the ball bad. I continued to hit it well the whole round; I just couldn’t get some putts to fall. That’s not a bad thing, just to know that you left some opportunities out there and that they’ll be out there the next day. I had one bogey on hole three. I just hit a bad shot to the left and wasn’t able to hit a chip like I wanted. Other than that, I hit the ball really well today. I got some putts to fall and left a few out there.”
Tse traded three bogeys and a par on each nine. She birdied No. 17 before back-to-back bogeys on No. 18 and No. 1. She evened it all out with another birdie on No. 2.
Mary Langdon Gallagher and Gabi Oubre’ rounded out the MSU leaderboard with a 78 and 82, respectively. Gallagher entered her ninth hole of the day at only 1-over but bogeyed four consecutive holes to fall to 5-over. Another bogey on No. 7 took her to 6-over for the day.
Oubre’ struggled with a trio of double bogeys. The freshman regrouped to card birdie-par-par on her last three holes.
Top-ranked USC tied 48th-ranked San Jose State with a 4-under-par 284 to take command of the leaderboard after the first round, while Spartan Regan De Guzman’s 5-under-par 67 earned her the top spot individually.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the women’s golf program on Twitter, @mstateWG, and on Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG.
First Round – May 21, 2013
T1. No. 1 USC (284, -4); T1. No. 48 San Jose State (284, -4); 3. No. 3 Duke (286, -2); 4. No. 2 Alabama (288, E); T5. No. 8 UCLA (289, +1); T5. No. 7 Purdue (289, +1); 7. No. 13 Stanford (290, +2); 8. No. 4 Oklahoma (291, +3); 9. No. 12 Arizona State (293, +5); 10. No. 14 Tulane (295, +7); 11. No. 5 Arkansas (296, +8); T12. No. 25 Michigan State (298, +10); T12. No. 9 Arizona (298, +10); T12. No. 24 Northwestern (298, +10); T15. No. 18 Texas (299, +11); T15. No. 17 UC Davis (299, +11); T15. No. 10 Florida (299, +11); T15. No. 6 Vanderbilt (298, +10); 19. No. 40 Mississippi State (300, +12); T20. No. 35 Oregon (301, +13); T20. No. 47 Wisconsin (301, +13); 22. No. 15 Oklahoma State (303, +15); 23. No. 32 South Carolina (304, +16); 24. No. 38 Auburn (305, +17).