Ace Fuels Romero to 36-Hole Lead

SAN DIEGO — Oregon women’s golf freshman Kiara Romero made her first hole-in-one as a Duck on Monday and is the individual leader through 36 holes at the San Diego State Classic,while the No. 7 Ducks sit in third place after improving by 10 strokes between the first and second rounds at The Farms Golf Club.

Romero’s ace fueled a 3-under 69 in the opening round that put her in a tie for first place, and she followed that up with a 2-under 70 in the second round to take a one-stroke lead at 5-under par. The opening 69 from Oregon’s star freshman was tied for the best round of the day, and she was one of just two players in the field to card an eagle.

Oregon opened the tournament with a 12-over 300, putting the Ducks in sixth place in the 12-team field. UO drastically improved in the second round with a 2-over 290, moving up to third place at 14-over par with 18 holes remaining. The Ducks are seven strokes back of No. 23 Virginia (-7) for the lead, and six behind No. 6 South Carolina (-6) for second.

How it Happened: Romero provided the highlight of the day early in the round, finding the bottom of the cup from 193 yards on the par-3 fifth hole. It was the first hole-in-one of her collegiate career, and ninth all-time.

Romero added birdies at No. 3 and No. 9 to finish the front nine with a stellar 4-under 32, and she stayed hot with a birdie at No. 10. The freshman made bogeys at No. 15 and No. 18 to come in with a 3-under 69, her fourth sub-70 performance in just her 13th round of collegiate stroke play.

Tied for the lead through 18 holes, Romero once again shined on the front nine with a 2-under 36 to start the second round. A bogey at No. 13 brought her to 1 under, but she got it back with a birdie at No. 16 to overtake the individual lead. 

Romero enters Tuesday one stroke up on Riana Mission (San Francisco), Louise Rydqvist (South Carolina) and Amanda Sambach (Virginia), seeking her second win as a Duck in just her fifth stroke-play tournament. 

Ching-Tzu Chen helped Romero pace the Ducks in the opening round with a 1-over 73, before coming in with a 5-over 76 in the second round. She is tied for 15th overall at 6-over par. 

Minori Nagano and Ashleigh Park both showed resiliency on Monday, bouncing back from tough opening rounds to shoot par-or-better in the second round. Both seniors were in the 80s to start the day, but Park came back with a 1-under 71 and Nagano was right behind with an even-par 70 to help Oregon move up the leaderboard.

Ducks on the Leaderboard:

3. Oregon – 300-290 – 590 (+14)

1. Kiara Romero – 69-70 – 139 (-5)

T15. Ching-Tzu Chen – 73-77 – 150 (+6)

T24. Minori Nagano – 80-72 – 152 (+8)

T30. Ashleigh Park – 82-71 – 153 (+9)

54. Ting-Hsuan Huang – 78-86 – 164 (+20)

Notable: With two more on Monday, Romero has now shot par-or-better in 12 of her first 14 rounds of stroke play as a Duck … Nagano has finished par-or-better in nine of 11 stroke-play rounds this season, and Park also carded her ninth par-or-better showing (14 rounds) … Romero is looking to become just the 10th Duck ever to record multiple tournament wins in a career.

Up Next: The final round of the San Diego State Classic is scheduled for Tuesday morning.