‘She’s the Energizer bunny’: ANWA champ Lottie Woad takes early lead at NCAA Championships

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Normally, when a player can’t stop practicing, it’s something a coach loves. In Lottie Woad’s case, it was the opposite.

Over the past year and a half, the Florida State sophomore has learned to be better about giving herself time off. Not exhausting every ounce of energy on practice to leave nothing for competition.

It’s something Seminoles’ coach Amy Bond and Woad discussed plenty this year. And those small changes are one of the things that have propelled Woad to stardom.

Woad, winner of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last month, has been on a roll since her triumph at Augusta National, and that continued Friday during the opening round of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship at Omni La Costa’s North Course. Woad had eight birdies in the opening round and is the solo leader after a 7-under 65 to open.

“She seems to be the Energizer bunny. She just keeps going and going and going,” Bond said of her star. “We’ve sent her away from the golf course a few times.”

Bond said it’s “unbelievable” how much Woad has picked up her play since winning the ANWA. She made her first major championship start, carding 17 birdies and finishing T-23. Then she returned to Florida State, after missing the ACC Championship to play in the Chevron, and finished third at the NCAA Las Vegas Regional, leading the tournament for a majority of the way.

Now, her elevated play is continuing at the national championship. After the morning wave, Woad has a one-shot lead over Clemson’s Isabella Rawl.

“There has been a lot of change for me recently, but I keep thinking it’s a good thing in order for all of this to happen,” Woad said. “All of the change has been really, really cool.”

Woad said playing with Madelene Sagstrom and Gabriela Ruffels in the first two rounds at the Chevron was important because of the conversations she was able to have with the two former amateur stars. That advice has helped her handle the tumultuous changes.

However, her skills on the golf course remain sharp. Woad turned in 3 under starting on Omni La Costa’s back nine, then she added five birdies on the front, including four in five holes.

Her confidence is as high as ever, and it’s something that is propelling her into another stratosphere.

“Not that she didn’t already have it because she certainly does now,” Bond said, “but now she truly knows she can get it done when she needs to.”

And after the opening round at NCAAs, Woad is proving again she’s a force to be reckoned with in the biggest events.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek