PALM DESERT, Calif. — The Montana women’s golf team shot rounds of 310 and 312 on Saturday and is sitting in sixth place out of 12 teams as the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate opened at the Classic Club.

The Grizzlies will go into Sunday’s final round just three strokes behind third-place UC Riverside in a tightly packed field.

“We didn’t shoot ourselves out of it, but we could have put ourselves in a better position had we putted better today,” said coach Kris Nord.

“We left some opportunities out there. If we play well tomorrow, we have a chance at moving up, so that’s the hope.”

Montana, which had to count a score in the 80's in both rounds, opened with a 310 behind Hailey Hoagland’s 2-over 74 and Caylyn Villatora’s 76.

Hoagland, Kari Opatz and Teigan Avery, who shot an 89 in the opening round, all shot 77's in the second round as the Grizzlies carded a 312.

“We started a little slow in the first round," Nord said. "We found the water a number of times. There is trouble everywhere, with water every hole. If you’re not playing well, you can go get big numbers quickly.

“We’re right there but a little frustrated. Some of the girls hit the ball real well, but we had a lot of three-putts. It was really hot and a long day of golf.”

Hoagland is tied for eighth, seven shots off the lead of Marni Murez of Santa Clara. She had three birdies in the first round, two more in the second.

Her 74 in the opening round gives her four rounds this fall out of eight with scores of 75 or better.

“Hailey is just solid and has been in all of our tournaments this fall,” Nord said. “She’s avoided the big scores and is just a great competitor. I love how she plays shot by shot and never gets too frustrated. I’m really impressed with her play.”

Opatz, the only other Grizzly with two rounds in the 70's on Saturday, is tied for 19th.

Montana’s No. 4 golfer through two rounds is Baylee Barckley, who entered the tournament with a fall scoring average of 73.5. She shot rounds of 82 and 81 on Saturday.

“Baylee kind of lost her swing a little bit today, but she hung in there,” said Nord. “If we can get her going tomorrow, we’ll be in better shape.”

Santa Clara (303-295--598) sits atop the leaderboard, two strokes ahead of Hawaii (299-301--600).

UC Riverside (313-306--619), in third place, leads a pack of five, which includes Montana, that will enter Sunday’s final round within eight shots of one another.

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