The No. 40 Washington women’s golf team has started off its post-season with plenty of momentum. The Huskies are hoping to defend their title at the national championships in Sugar Grove, Ill., beginning May 19.

However, before they can do that, the UW has to finish within the top six at the NCAA Albuquerque Regionals. After their day-one performance, they are in good shape to do so. Washington joined three of the nation’s top-10 teams in the 18-team field for a three-day tournament at the Championship Course in New Mexico.

Before the first round of 18 holes was complete, the UW bounced around the leaderboard and at one point dropped well below the top six. Steady performances from sophomores Julianne Alvarez, Sarah Rhee, and Wenyung Keh aided in the team’s third place finish (7-over 295).  

Tee times were split between the first and 10th hole, allowing for faster play. The sophomore trio was nearly perfect after the first nine holes, but Keh carded a double bogey on the par-4 17th hole to finish 1-over 37 at the turn. She rebounded nicely and only had to mark up her scorecard twice with a birdie on two and a bogey to finish the round on the ninth hole. Keh ended her first day 1-over 73 and tied for 14th place.

Alvarez and Rhee played their way into the top five after a combined three birdies gave both a 1-under 71 on their back nine. Carding even-par 72, the two sit just three strokes behind the leader and are tied for fourth.

The remaining Huskies on the five-woman roster didn’t have as much success in the first round. Freshmen Karen Miyamoto (6-over 78) and Ellen Takada (13-over 85) entered the clubhouse tied for 63rd place and in sole possession of 92nd place, respectively.

For the second day in a row, Washington will be paired with SMU and Campbell. All three teams will tee off from the 10th hole beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Reach reporter Alexis Mansanarez at Twitter: @almansanarez

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