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Montagnino, Rudra in position for top 10 spot

Emily Montagnino of Smithtown West tees off on

Emily Montagnino of Smithtown West tees off on the 13th hole of Bethpage State Park's Yellow Course during the first round of the NYSPHSAA girls golf state championship on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

A solid opening round Saturday has both Emily Montagnino and Malini Rudra in position to earn another top 10 finish at the state girls golf tournament.

Smithtown West’s Montagnino and Syosset’s Rudra both shot 5-over-par 77 on Bethpage Yellow on Day 1 of the tournament, putting them in a tie for ninth heading into Sunday’s final round.

Montagnino opened the day by shooting 1-over 36 on the front nine, putting herself well ahead of where she was at this point in the tournament last year. As a junior, she was 10 over on the first day, before shooting 1 over on the second to finish with 155 and a tie for eighth.

“I was making a lot of putts out there and driving the ball pretty good,” said Montagnino, who birdied the par-4 eighth and 13th holes. “I’m just trying to improve on my performance from last year. I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to play my best.”

She said that the pair of lightning delays that suspended play presented an added challenge: “It slowed play up a little bit but you just have to play through it.”

Rudra shot 153 as a sophomore last season to come in seventh and earn a third consecutive top-10 finish. Like Montagnino, Rudra got stronger as the tournament progressed last year and was 1 over for the final 27 holes.

On Saturday, she shot 37 on the front nine and 40 on the back, with birdies on the par-3 fourth and 11th holes.

Kaitlyn Lee (Scarsdale) and Melanie Green (Rochester) are tied for first with a 68. Montagnino’s teammate Paige Diecidue shot 79, Emilie Guo (Jericho) and Lauren Chen (Manhasset) both shot 80, and Southampton teammates Caraline Oakley and Kaitlyn Browne both shot 81.

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