Kate Smith fired a two-under-par 70 to finish with a three-round total of 213 (-3) to tie for eighth in a strong season-opening field at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday.
Smith, a senior from Detroit Lakes, Minn., moved up two spots on the leaderboard in the final round of competition by sinking four birdies to go along with 12 pars in the final round. She took bogeys on the 10th and 13th holes, but scored birdies on No. 1, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 18. Her three-round total of 213 (71-72-70) was six strokes off the pace set by champion Momoka Kobori from Pepperdine, whose final-round 64 (-8) helped her finish at 207 (-9). Kent State's Karolina Stormo and Indiana's Priscilla Schmid tied for second at 209 (-7).
"Kate is a really good player and understands how to play the game," Nebraska Coach Lisa Johnson said. "I was impressed with the way she performed in all three rounds. We are going to be looking for Kate to continue to be consistent day in and day out in practice and at our tournaments. If she can bring that consistency and work ethic throughout the season, then she is going to have a really good year."
As a team, Nebraska climbed one notch in the final standings with a 294 (+6) on Tuesday. The Huskers finished with a three-round score of 892 (+28). Nebraska finished ahead of UNLV, Iowa, Idaho and Colorado State.
"We learned a lot about our players and our team this week," Johnson said. "We got to see some of their tendencies on the course in competition, and we learned more about what their strengths and weaknesses are as players. This tournament is a starting point for us and gives us some great knowledge so we can go back to practice this week and get to work."
Kent State, which competed at the 2019 NCAA Championships, won the tournament team title with a three-round total of 848 that included a tournament-best final round of 278 (-10). Pepperdine finished second at 855 (-9), while Iowa State and Ole Miss tied for third at 862 (-2).
Individually, Megan Whittaker put together a solid round with a 75 for the Huskers. The sophomore from Elkhorn, Neb., finished in a tie for 45th at 225 (74-76-75). Senior Haley Thiele (Wahoo, Neb.) produced her best round of the tournament with a two-over-par 74 on Tuesday. Thiele closed in a tie for 51st at 226 (77-75-74).
Freshman Leah Herzog (Red Wing, Minn.) also carded her best round of the tournament with a three-over 75 Tuesday. Herzog finished in a tie for 63rd (77-76-75) at 288, matching the score of her older sister, Stephanie, who is a junior at Iowa this season.
Vanessa Bouvet, a sophomore from Brunei, rounded out the Husker contingent with a 240 after carding an 80 for the third consecutive round.
Nebraska returns to action in two weeks at the Golfweek Conference Challenge at the Red Sky Golf Club in Vail, Colo., Sept. 23-25.
Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational
UNM Championship Course
Par 72, 6,317 Yards
Sept. 9-10, 2019
Final Team Results
1. Kent State - 283-287-278-848 (-16)
2. Pepperdine - 280-289-286-855 (-9)
T3. Iowa State - 286-293-283-862 (-2)
T3. Ole Miss - 283-288-291-862 (-2)
5. San Diego State - 285-294-284-863 (-1)
6. Mississippi State - 279-301-287-867 (+3)
7. Indiana - 293-291-291-875 (+11)
8. Nevada - 291-293-296-880 (+16)
9. New Mexico - 291-295-297-883 (+19)
10. UC Davis - 297-291-299-887 (+23)
11. Nebraska - 299-299-294-892 (+28)
12. UNLV - 297-299-304-900 (+36)
13. Iowa - 295-306-301-902 (+38)
T14. Idaho - 297-303-311-911 (+47)
T14. Colorado State - 304-306-301-911 (+47)
Final Individual Results
1. Momoka Kobori, Pepperdine - 69-74-64-207 (-9)
T2. Karoline Stormo, Kent State - 68-73-68-209 (-7)
T2. Priscilla Schmid, Indiana - 71-68-70-209 (-7)
T4. Alexa Melton, Pepperdine - 69-68-73-210 (-6)
T4. Caley McGinty, Kent State - 72-69-69-210 (-6)
6. Pimnipa Panthong, Kent State - 72-69-70-211 (-5)
7. Rei Nakatani, UC Davis - 69-70-73-212 (-4)
T8. Kate Smith, Nebraska - 71-72-70-213 (-3)
T8. Gioia Carpinelli, San Diego State - 66-73-74-213 (-3)
T8. Sara Kjellker, San Diego State - 69-75-69-213 (-3)
T8. Kate Smith - 71-72-70-213 (-3)
T45. Megan Whittaker - 74-76-75-225 (+9)
T51. Haley Thiele - 77-75-74-226 (+10)
T63. Leah Herzog - 77-76-75-228 (+12)
85. Vanessa Bouvet - 80-80-80-240 (+24)