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Eight Straight Birdies by 17-Year-Old Leads Maryland to Lead In USGA Women’s State Team Tourne

Savannah, Ga. – Most people who make nine birdies on a golf course do so on synthetic greens featuring windmills, makeshift pirate boats and clown’s mouths.
But Elise Smidinger wasn’t playing Pirate’s Cove on Tuesday at The Landings Club.
The 17-year-old from Crofton, Md., registered a remarkable eight consecutive birdies – nine overall – in shooting a 4-under-par 68 on the 6,067-yard, par-72 Palmetto Course in helping Maryland take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the 2011 USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
Maryland, which also received a 3-over 75 from 53-year-old Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, posted a 1-under 143 team total in the 3-count-2 format. Andrea Kraus, 51, of Baltimore, had a non-scoring 78. Maryland was the runner-up in this biennial competition 10 years ago at Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata, Minn.
Texas, the runner-up at the inaugural event in 1995, posted a 2-over 146 for second position, three shots ahead of both South Carolina and Tennessee, which was the runner-up in 1999 and 2007.
Defending champion Georgia sits 10 shots off the pace at 9-over 153, sharing fifth position with Hawaii.
Utah is tied for 17th place after the first round led by Annette Giaotti’s 78 and Julie McMullin’s 80 for a 158 team total. Lea Garner shot 89.
Only one group and three teams failed to post a score when darkness halted play at 7:08 EDT. The final players for Connecticut, Iowa and Washington will resume their first round at 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday before turning around and starting round two. For the rest of the field, starting times for the second round will commence at 7:40 a.m.
Smidinger came within a shot of the championship record of 67 held by Brenda Corrie Kuehn of North Carolina (1997) and Alabama’s Kathy Hartwiger (2011).
Her round started inauspiciously with bogeys at the first and third holes. Then her birdie streak began at the par-3 fifth with a 4-footer. She reached the par-5 sixth in two before stuffing shots within 10 feet on holes seven through 11. At the par-3 12th, she rolled in a 60-footer for birdie, leaving some to believe she might birdie all the remaining holes.
“I was trying to,” said Smidinger with a smile. “The most [birdies] I’ve ever had in a round is seven and I shot five under on a par-73 course.”
Smidinger did cool off with bogeys at 13, 14 and 16 – she three-putted the par-5 14th – before closing with a birdie at the par-4 18th hole.
Two months ago at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Smidinger, a former Maryland state Level 6 gymnastics champion, made headlines by upsetting co-medalist Jihee Kim of Korea in the first round of match play after garnering the 64th and final match-play spot in a playoff.  
“That just gave me a lot of confidence,” said the Arundel High School senior who has verbally committed to attend the University of Denver next fall. “I played practice rounds for [the upcoming] Maryland Women’s Open at Columbia C.C. [in Chevy Chase] and those greens were wicked fast. That helped prepare me for this [event].”
Added Schlesinger, the stroke-play medalist at last month’s USGA Senior Women’s Amateur: “Elyse is our horse. Our horse got us going. We came into this event thinking we had a really good chance of finishing in the top three. That’s our mindset and that’s our goal.”
Texas came to The Landings with a similar goal. And with strong play from 2007 USGA Senior Amateur champion Anna Schultz, 56, of Rockwall, and 1998 USA Curtis Cup Team member Robin Burke, 49, of Houston, the trio from the Lone Star State is right in the hunt. Schultz carded an even-par 72 and Burke added a 74. Mina Hardin of Fort Worth had a non-scoring 79.
“I am thrilled,” said Schultz. “I hit the ball really well. Robin worked with me a little bit [Monday] on chipping, and a little on my swing. I was taking it back a little hooded. I got squared away and it felt so good out there. And I started rolling some putts in.”
Schultz was three under par through 12 holes before bogeys at 13, 15 and 16 brought her back to level par. At 16, her 189-yard, 3-wood approach came up just short of the green and she failed to get up and down for par. After playing two morning practice rounds, Schultz, who started the round at 1:45 p.m., said the ball carried much better in the afternoon.
“I was hitting way shorter clubs in than I was [in the practice rounds],” she said. “It was damp and cool. So tomorrow [morning for round two], I guess I better get my 5-wood going.”
Calle Nielson, 23, a recent University of Virginia graduate from Nashville, Tenn., led Tennessee with a 3-under 69. Nielson, who advanced through Stage II of LPGA Tour Qualifying School playing as an amateur last week in Florida, closed her round with three consecutive birdies from No. 16.
Tennessee’s second counting score was an 80 by 30-year-old Jennifer Lucas of Knoxville.
“I think we’ll get it together,” said Nielson of her team, which also includes 62-year-old Maggie Scott of Charleston. “I think Jen will get it. I played with her [the past two days] and she was hitting the ball phenomenal. Putts will [eventually] fall. I had difficulty with the putts until the last three holes.”
Dawn Woodard didn’t make too many birdie putts, either, in her round of 73 for South Carolina. The 37-year-old from Greer had just two birdies against three bogeys. Teammate Lea Venable, 38, of Simpsonville, added a 4-over 76.
Two years ago, South Carolina finished fifth at Sycamore Hills G.C. in Fort Wayne, Ind., with Woodard shooting even-par 216, including a final-round 68.
“I putted extremely well. Even though I didn’t make a lot of birdies, if I didn’t get it close on the first [putt], the 4- and 6-footers coming back … I think I [only] missed one all day.”
As for Georgia, Laura Coble, 47, of Augusta, a member of the winning 2005 and 2009 teams, shot 78 and 14-year-old Rachel Dai of Suwanee added a solid 75. Two years ago, Georgia went wire-to-wire in posting a nine-shot win over Alabama.
If the team wants to win it on home soil in 2011, it will have to do so from a chasing position.
“I don’t think we need to try any harder,” said Coble. “We are already trying our best. It’s just golf and some days don’t work out as well as you like.”
David Shefter is a USGA senior staff writer. E-mail him at [email protected]
Savannah, Ga. – Results from the first round of the 2011 USGA Women’s State Team Championship being conducted on the 6,067-yard, par-72 Palmetto Course at The Landings Club. The two best scores are used to determine the team’s total. Note: Colorado, Washington and Iowa failed to complete their rounds when darkness suspended play at 7:08 p.m. EDT. The final group will resume round one at 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday. 
Maryland: 143; Elyse Smidinger, Crofton 33-35–68; Lisa Schlesinger, Laytonsville 37-38–75; Andrea Kraus, Baltimore 41-37–78
Texas: 146; Anna Schultz, Rockwall 34-38–72; Robin Burke, Houston 36-38–74; Mina Hardin, Ft. Worth 41-38–79
South Carolina: 149; Dawn Woodard, Greer 36-37–73; Lea Venable, Simpsonville 36-40–76; Lea Anne Brown, Mt. Pleasant 45-42–87
Tennessee: 149; Calle Nielson, Nashville 36-33–69; Jennifer Lucas, Knoxville 39-41–80; Maggie Scott, Charleston 41-43–84
Georgia: 153; Rachel Dai, Suwanee 38-37–75; Laura Coble, Augusta 39-39–78; Amira Alexander, Alpharetta 43-37–80
Hawaii: 153; Ciera Min, Hilo 37-38–75; Hana Furuichi, Honolulu 40-38–78; Allisen Corpuz, Honolulu37-41–78
Mississippi: 154; Virginia Grimes, Meridian 36-37–73; Cissye Gallagher, Greenwood 41-40–81; Renee Chastain, Brandon 42-42–84
California: 155; Lynne Cowan, Davis 38-36–74; Joan Higgins, Glendora 39-42–81; Sharon Park, Irvine 40-41–81
New Jersey: 155; Cindy Ha, Demarest 40-37–77; Kuriko Tsukiyama, West New York 42-36–78; Scotland Preston, Mountainside 45-35–80
Florida: 155; Wendi Golden, Bradenton 37-40–77; Tovie St. Louis, West Palm Beach 40-38–78; Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park 39-44–83
Wisconsin: 155; Maggie Leef, Brookfield 40-35–75; Rheba Mabie, Wausau 39-41–80; Katie Falk, Milwaukee 43-43–86
Arizona: 156; Mikayla Harmon, Gilbert 36-41–77; Kimberly Eaton, Tempe 40-39–79; Thuhashini Selvaratnam, Tempe 40-40–80
Puerto Rico: 156; Maria Torres, San Juan 37-35–72; Paola Robles, Aguadilla 41-43–84; Rebekah Alfond, Dorado 47-46–93
Alabama: 157; Suzanne Stanley, Decatur 36-39–75; Linda Jeffery, Millbrook 40-42–82; Gabi Oubre, Mobile 43-44–87
Pennsylvania: 157; Alexandra Frazier, West Conshohocken 39-38–77; Noreen Mohler, Bethlehem 42-38–80; Lisa McGill, Philadelphia 40-42–82
North Carolina: 158; Pat Brogden, Garner 38-38–76; Debbie Adams, Asheville 42-40–82; Patty Moore, Charlotte 43-40–83
Ohio: 158; Suzi Spotleson, Canton 37-37–74; Lynn Thompson, Cincinnati 43-41–84; Cathy Jefferson, Centerville 45-42–87
Utah: 158; Annette Gaiotti, Salt Lake City 40-38–78; Julie McMullin, Park City 34-46–80; Lea Garner, Washington Terrace 45-44–89
Massachusetts: 159; Tara Joy Connelly, Pembroke 38-39–77; Pam Kuong, Wellesley 42-40–82; Kristen MacDonald, Billerica 43-40–83
Kentucky: 159; Laura Patrick, Russell 40-38–78; Beverly Games, Elizabethtown 42-39–81; Martha Leach, Hebron 43-38–81
Minnesota: 160; Olivia Lansing, St. Paul 40-38–78; Kristen Wagner, Minneapolis 43-39–82; Leigh Klasse, St. Anthony 42-44–86
Louisiana: 160; Kay Daniel, Covington 40-38–78; Elise Bradley, Mandeville 42-40–82; Julie Harrison, Baton Rouge 37-47–84
New York: 162; Annie Park, Levittown 40-34–74; Danielle Fuss, Rochester 47-41–88; Teresa Cleland, Syracuse 45-45–90
Virginia: 162; Shelley Savage, Alexandria 40-40–80; Mimi Hoffman, Springfield 40-42–82; Boodie McGurn, Richmond 43-44–87
Oregon: 163; Brie Stone, Veneta 41-39–80; Monica Vaughn, Reedsport 40-43–83; Lara Tennant, Portland 43-41–84
New Mexico: 163; Shania Berger, Socorro 41-40–81; Lara Davis, Albuquerque 39-43–82; Nancy Romero, Albuquerque 50-46–96
South Dakota: 163; Julie Jansa, Sioux Falls 38-42–80; Maggie Murphy, Sioux Falls 42-41–83; Karla Murra, Sioux Falls 42-43–85
Oklahoma: 164; Ellen Mueller, Bartlesville 38-39–77; Leigh Ann Fore, Tulsa 45-42–87; Kathy West, Tulsa 49-39–88
Kansas: 165; Shelly McCalla, Topeka 44-37–81; Alex Beury, Benton 41-43–84; Lacy Shelton, Overland Park 42-43–85
Illinois: 165; Tanya Olson, Naperville 38-44–82; Laura Carson, Lake Bluff 39-44–83; Char McLear, McHenry 41-47–88
Indiana: 166; Nina Whalen, Indianapolis 41-42–83; Kristi Trotter, Greenwood 43-40–83; Julie Carmichael, Indianapolis 45-43–88
Colorado: 167; Allie Johnston, Castle Rock 41-42–83; Mary Doyen, Denver 43-41–84; Laurie Steenrod, Aurora 42-44–86
Nebraska: 167; J.C. Weaver, Grand Island 41-40–81; Susan Marchese, Omaha 43-43–86; Jane Pohlman, Omaha 51-41–92
Nevada: 167; Karen Hoppe, Carson City 42-41–83; Lisa Stanley, Reno 41-43–84; Robin McNesby, Henderson 41-46–87
Maine: 168; Emily Bouchard, Saco 41-38–79; Mary Brandes, Falmouth 48-41–89; Laurie Hyndman, Cumberland 49-47–96
Michigan: 169; Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Haslett 43-40–83; Natalie Brehm, Mt. Pleasant 44-42–86; Kim Kester, Ada 45-45–90
Idaho: 171; Kareen Markle, Meridian 41-41–82; Karen Darrington, Boise 49-40–89; Shawna Ianson, Boise 52-46–98
Wyoming: 173; Sarah Bowman, Parkman 45-39–84; Miranda Bandemer, Laramie 46-43–89; Mary Smith, Sheridan 44-50–94
District of Columbia: 173; Shelley Gaffin, Washington 44-41–85; Maggie Brady, Washington 44-44–88; Deborah Klein, Washington 48-45–93
Arkansas: 174; Tanna Richard, Fort Smith 45-41–86; Rosetta Parks, Lowell 43-45–88; Brenda Carr, Bentonville 47-46–93
Delaware: 175; Angie Whitley Coleman, New Castle 44-42–86; Sandy Scitti, Selbyville 47-42–89; Carolyn R. Henry, Middletown 49-50–99
West Virginia: 177; Kimberly Eaton, Shepherdstown 47-39–86; Caroline Ramsey, Bridgeport 48-43–91; Nicolle Flood-Sawczyszyn, Morgantown 47-47–94
Vermont: 179; Holly Reynolds, Morrisville 41-45–86; Shelly Yusko, Quechee 47-46–93; Susie Bremner, Essex Junction 52-53–105
Montana: 180; Sue Peterson, Glendive 43-42–85; Sue Matson, Laurel 47-48–95; Sable Hamilton, Colstrip 48-51–99
Rhode Island: 181; Judy Davis, Rumford 44-45–89; Marisa White, Wakefield 45-47–92; Kibbe Reilly, Providence 52-46–98
Missouri: 183; Stephany Powell, Springfield 47-41–88; Barbara Blankenship, Centertown 46-49–95; Janis Clemens, Sedalia 50-54–104
Alaska: 187; Terri McAngus, Eagle River 46-44–90; Jamie Berge, Anchorage 52-45–97; Susan Gatewood, Anchorage 52-65–117
North Dakota: 198; Mary Adams, Grand Forks 49-48–97; Sharon Lipsh, Grafton 49-52–101; Theresa Burns, Bismarck 51-51–102