Playing in morning temperatures just above freezing, Bird made par on her first hole, paving the way to a first-round 83 (40-43).
She sits nine strokes behind the leaders — Stephanie Pribonic of Wakefield and Sarah Bae of Athens Drive, tied at 74 — and enters today’s final round tied for 15th place. Nine golfers are bunched within three shots of the lead. Bird was especially encouraged by her par on No. 1.
“On the first hole I usually don’t do so good,” Bird said. “I started off with a par so that really motivated me”
The Swett senior carded a pair of birdies on the day, which helped make up for double-bogey blemishes on holes No. 9 and 18.
“Under these conditions, she played great,” Swett coach Jamie Locklear said. “Of course she’s going to say she didn’t like the way she finished, but she kept her composure. I was thinking that she might be in the high 80s. She went below that, so I’m very proud of her. She played and awesome round of golf.”
Rain showered over Pinehurst moments after Bird finished up on 18.
“I feel pretty good,” Bird said. “I left some shots out there, but I feel good about how I played today.”
In the team standings, Charlotte Ardrey Kell (240) has a narrow one-shot lead over Raleigh Athens Drive (241).
The final day of play is scheduled to get underway today at 8:30 a.m. Bird tees off at 10 a.m.
“I’m just going to try to beat my score from today,” Bird said. “But I can’t be out there thinking about my score. I’m just going to be focused on striking the ball better.”
Sports Editor Kaleb Roedel can be reached at (910) 734-6111 or firstname.lastname@example.org