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GULF SHORES, Ala. (March 16, 2018) – North Carolina A&T women’s golf did not place where they wanted to after the first day of the Bama Beach Bash. But they did place ahead of who they wanted after Day 1 of the competitive tournament hosted by the University of Alabama-Birmingham at the par-72, 6,002-yard Gulf Shores Golf Club.

N.C. A&T is in sixth place after a first-round 316 (28-over). Only 10 strokes separate the Aggies from third-place West Florida who shot a 306 on the first day. South Alabama leads the tournament with a 2-under 286 to open the bash. They are followed by Georgia State (297), West Florida, UAB (308) and Southern Illinois (312) to round out the top-5.

The Aggies did finish ahead of Alabama State who finished four strokes behind the Aggies in seventh place. That holds significance for the Aggies as the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Tournament approaches in May.

“As it stands right now, I think the top three (historically black universities) are us, Bethune-Cookman and Alabama State, so this is a good tournament for us," said N.C. A&T coach Richard Watkins. “We beat Bethune-Cookman, they beat us and right we’re ahead of Alabama State. This is a good tournament for us because of the level of competition and there are people here who we will have to see later. I’m pretty pleased with where we are.”

The improvement of Watkins’ team was made evident by the fact they finished only four strokes behind a Southern Illinois team they struggled to compete with last season.

Junior Bo Young Park turned in the best card of the day for the Aggies. She parred her final eight holes before putting in a birdie on the par-5, 504-yard No. 18 to finish 1-under on the back nine to finish 4-over on the day to finish tied for 13th as an individual.  Senior Sofia Alvarez and freshman Madison Harriman are tied for 23rd.

Alvarez had two birdies on the day as she recovered from a double bogey on the par-4, 17th to birdie the 18th to finish 7-over. Harriman had two birdies on the day including a birdie on the 17th. She also sunk a birdie putt on the par-5, 463-yard ninth to finish 7-over. N.C. A&T hopes to continue to improve in the second round as they set their sights on the PGA minority championship tournament.

“We can win it,” said Watkins. "Second or third place would not be a gross disappointment, but we’re going to try to win it. I understand our aspirations are very lofty for a program that has only been around for two years, but if you’re not in it to win it then why are you in it.”