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Saturday, March 02, 2024

Ornella Jouven has been overshadowed throughout the UF women's golf team's season.

Not on Monday.

Jouven's even-par 72, keyed by three birdies in her first five holes, set the pace at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational. The redshirt junior holds a one-shot lead over New Mexico's Alexandra Phelps.

"I was just very consistent. I hit a lot of greens and had a few birdies," Jouven said. "I didn't try for anything big. I just tried to make pars."

On a day when no team broke 300 in blustery conditions at the University of Texas Golf Club, which will be an NCAA Regional site in May, Jouven's steady play helped UF cling to second - two shots back of New Mexico.

"I thought we let the wind mentally get to us," coach Jill Briles-Hinton said, citing gusts of up to 30 miles per hour. "We are not using the wind as an excuse because if we do, we will never improve. We didn't hit the shots we needed to hit at the right time."

But neither the wind nor the conventional wisdom of statistics could faze Jouven on Monday.

According to the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Individual Performance Index, which is calculated using a player's record, stroke differential and head-to-head record against others, the La Ciotat, France native is the least likely Gator in this week's lineup to be atop a leaderboard.

Her ranking entering Monday was 123rd, more than 100 spots behind Whitney Myers, who leads the squad in scoring average at 72.76 and holds 18th place in the Index, and Jessica Yadloczky, whose 21st position makes her the fifth-highest-rated freshman behind Pepperdine's Taylore Karle, UCLA's Glory Yang and Maria Jose Uribe, and Auburn's Cydney Clanton.

Freshman Hannah Yun doesn't have enough rounds to qualify for a ranking.

Jouven's only barely within shouting distance of Tiffany Chudy's 59th place spot.

Still, after UF's stormy Monday, only Jouven will start Tuesday with the outright lead.

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Myers is tied for seventh at four-over, Chudy is tied for 19th at six-over, and Yun is at seven-over and in a tie for 24th.

And Yadloczky, whose quadruple bogey on the par-4 sixth hole at the University of Texas Golf Club was the biggest bruise in a nightmarish 81, her worst round as a Gator, is tied for 43rd.

But Jouven isn't focused on any of those numbers. She and the rest of the Gators are likely more worried about inches of rain and wind speed.

Forecasts of heavy rains and scattered thunderstorms have already pushed back tee times two and a half hours for Tuesday's second round.

Jouven isn't worried. She's already weathered the weather once.

"The conditions won't be very good tomorrow as well, so I will try to play just like today and stay in the present," she said.

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