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    SEC Golf Today: May 12

    Gamecocks Finish Strong to Win NCAA East Regional Title

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - For the second time in three years, the South Carolina women’s golf team claimed the NCAA East Regional title. The Gamecocks led wire-to-wire and wrapped up the tournament with a final-round 291 (+3) to win by five strokes on Saturday at the Penn State Golf Course.

    Carolina held a seven-shot lead heading into the round and was never threatened as it went on to post a three-day total of 873 (+9), which ties for the fifth lowest 54-hole total in school history. The win is the Gamecocks’ first team title since claiming the 2010 NCAA East Regional.

    “It’s unbelievable. To come out on top in such a deep regional, we just did a phenomenal job,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “We are lucky to come away with it. The team played so solid. They were mentally tough every day and just stayed in the present. That’s more than we can ask for, and we just need to do that going into the NCAA Championship.”

    Texas A&M and Texas finished tied for second with a score of 878 (+14) to clinch two of the eight available spots for the NCAA Championships, while Alabama (879), Florida (879), Arizona State (887), Michigan State (887) and Duke (887) will also advance.

    Sophomore Suzie Lee made sure the Gamecocks held on to first place by firing a career-low 68 (-4), which ties for the third lowest score by a sophomore in school history. Lee bounced back from Friday’s 83 to climb the leaderboard and finish in a tie for 41st with a score of 224 (+8). She played her best golf of the season on the front nine, shooting a 4-under 32. The highlight of her round came on the par-4 sixth when she sank her approach shot from 127 yards for eagle.

    “That’s so impressive,” Harris said. “She got off to a 1-under start. Then the eagle at No. 6 got her to 3-under, and she just kept it going. I couldn’t be prouder of her for her comeback after an 83 (on Friday).”

    Senior Katie Burnett carded a 1-over 73 and finished in a tie for third with a score of 216 (E). She came up three shots shy of forcing a playoff to play for her second medalist honor at the NCAA East Regional in three years. After shooting even par on the front side, she struggled at times on the back nine with three bogeys as she fell back to 2-over heading to the 18th tee box. However, she closed out the round on a positive note by making birdie on the final hole to secure the seventh top-five finish of her career, which moves her into a tie for fourth in top-five finishes all-time at South Carolina.

    Junior Amanda Strang shot an even-par 72 to post a career-best NCAA Regional finish of a tie for 14th with a score of 220 (+4). After shooting a 3-over 39 on the front nine, she settled down to play her best nine holes of the tournament on the back side, recording birdies on three of her first four holes and making par the rest of the way to get back to even for the round.

    Freshman Justine Dreher wrapped up an impressive NCAA Regional debut with a final-round 78 (+6). She finished the tournament in a tie for 19th with a score of 221 (+5). On the day, Dreher carded one birdie, three bogeys, two double bogeys and 13 pars. She played a key role in building Carolina’s cushion heading into the final day with rounds of 70 (-2) and 73 (+1) on the first two days.

    Junior Meredith Swanson turned in an 80 (+8) to finish in a tie for 87th. She produced one birdie on the day as she sank a three-foot putt on the par-4 13th after narrowly holing out on her approach shot from the rough.

    Texas A&M’s Katerina Ruzickova shot a 1-over 73 to hold on to win medalist honors with a score of 213 (-3).

    The Gamecocks will now advance to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in five years. This year’s tournament will be held May 23-26 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

    South Carolina will be joined by SEC foes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks finished 18th at last year’s NCAA Championship.

    Alabama Women’s Golf Secures Seventh Straight NCAA Championships Bid
    STATE COLLEGE, Pa.  – The University of Alabama women’s golf team secured its place in the NCAA Championships by finishing tied for fourth on Saturday at the NCAA East Regional on the par-72, 6,253-yard Penn State Blue Course.
    The Crimson Tide (+15, 879) fired its best round of the tournament with a 2-over-par 290 to finish six-shots back of regional winner South Carolina (+9, 873). Texas A&M and Texas posted under-par rounds on Saturday to tie for second at 14-over 878.
    The top eight finishers at the NCAA East Regional advanced to the NCAA Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club on May 22-25 in Franklin, Tenn. Florida carded an even-par final round to finish tied with Alabama in fourth while Arizona State, Michigan State and Duke all finished at 887 to secure the final three bids to the NCAA Championships.  
    “We made a few birdies coming down the stretch today, which gets us into the right side of the draw at the NCAA Championships to be playing with the top teams,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. “We really grinded it out this weekend. It is a northern course where we really had a hard time reading the greens. We gave ourselves some birdie chances but we couldn’t convert on the greens.
    “I was proud of the way the girls kept working hard, played one shot at a time and kept things under their control. We were able survive and advance and now everybody starts out even at the NCAA Championships.”
    On the individual front junior Jennifer Kirby’s quest for medalist honors came up just short on Saturday, finishing second two shots off the pace of Texas A&M’s Katerina Ruzickova. Kirby carded a 2-under-par 70 in the final round. She made a strong push on the back nine with three birdies – on the 12th, 15th and 18th – and no bogeys for a 1-under-par total of 215.
    Sophomore Stephanie Meadow shot 74 in the final round for a 4-over 220. Senior Brooke Pancake posted a 76 that left her at 7-over 223.
    Sophomore Hannah Collier fired her second under-par round of the tournament with a 2-under 70 to post a 5-over 221. Johanna Tillström shot her best round of the regional with a 4-over 76 to count toward the Tide’s team total for the second straight round.
    Alabama has now qualified for seven straight NCAA Championship under the direction of head coach Mic Potter, after making the finals field only one time – 1987 – prior to the Hall of Famer’s arrival in Tuscaloosa prior to the 2005-06 season.
    The Southeastern Conference had seven teams advance to the NCAA Championships. Joining Alabama, Florida and South Carolina out of the East Region is Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas from the Central Regional and LSU from the West Regional. Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi were not able to advance out of their regions.


    On the right side of one stroke
    COLUMBUS, Ohio – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team was on the right side of one stroke finishing eighth at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional Championship.  The eighth-place showing moves the Razorbacks on to the NCAA Championship in Nashville, Tenn., May 22-25.
    “What a day,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said.  “It feels so good to be on the right side of one shot today.  I can’t say enough about this team’s fortitude.  They just hung it all on the line today and on a day when we needed it most, they really rallied hard.”
    Arkansas, ranked No. 34 this week, entered the day in 12th place but posted a 295, the fourth-best score of the day, squeaking into the eighth spot by one stroke over Oregon.  The Razorbacks and the Ducks were both in the morning tee times but Arkansas finished nearly one hour before Oregon.
    The Razorbacks finished with a 913 with rounds of 310-308-295.
    The Razorbacks were in the clubhouse with what they knew was a great score, but all they could do was wait, hoping Oregon did not force a playoff or win outright in regulation.
    Up by one stroke, the Razorbacks and their faithful fans hovered around the #9 green (Arkansas and Oregon both teed off from #10 to start the day) watching the final two Ducks come in.  Oregon’s top player had a birdie opportunity on the final hole that would have forced a playoff but the ball didn’t fall securing the Razorbacks spot in the next round.
    The other teams to advance out of the Central Regional include No. 3 Southern California wit 874, No. 10 Vanderbilt with 899, No. 33 Purdue with 902, No. 14 Tennessee with 904, No. 27 Virginia with 905, No. 16 Ohio State with 908 and No. 22 North Carolina State with 911.
    Arkansas knew they had some ground to make up but Estes-Taylor and the Razorbacks have found themselves in the underdog position most of the year and were not rattled with the pressure to perform.  In fact, all five players shot or matched their individual best score for the tournament in the final round.
    Sophomore Emily Tubert caught fire on the first nine turning at five under with two eagles and a birdie and tied the low tournament round with a 68.
    “I don’t think I have had an eagle all year and to have two in three holes was really great,” Tubert said.
    The Burbank, Calif., native played the front side one over finishing with a birdie on four and five consecutive pars.  She finished tied for fourth overall shooting 218 (75-75-68).
    “We went out and had a good time and I think we just gave it everything we had today,” Tubert said.  “It feels awesome to get to NCAAs.  We have worked so hard all year and this is a huge accomplishment for our team. I really couldn’t be more excited.”
    Sophomore Emma Lavy was steady all weekend finishing tied for 23rd overall.  The Fayetteville, Ark., product finished with a 227 (77-75-75).
    Junior Victoria Vela tied for 65th overall shooting 236 (79-81-76).  Vela rallied after opening with a double on hole 10 to finish plus four for the day.
    Sophomore Emily Podzielinski finished tied for 68th after posted a final round 76 for 237 (79-82-76).  Podzielinski finished strong with a birdie putt on her final hole in her first-ever NCAA Regional appearance.
    Freshman Hally Leadbetter rounded out the Razorbacks’ scores.  Leadbetter finished tied for 96th after rebounding from a tough first day in her first collegiate postseason appearance.  She was one of three players to shot 76 in the final round finishing with a 242 (89-77-76).
    “I kept saying all week that we play well from behind,” said Estes-Taylor.  “I wasn’t sure we could make up this much ground but we played our best golf in the final round.  I’m so, so happy for this group. We have an opportunity to win a national championship and that is something very special.”
    The rest of the field from the Central Regional includes No. 21 Oregon with 914, No. 28 Florida State and No. 9 Georgia tied for 10th with 919, No. 4 Auburn with 922, No. 39 Ole Miss with 930, NO. 45 Texas State with 935, No. 49 Notre Dame with 936, Michigan with 937, No. 41 Kentucky with 938, Harvard with 943, No. 46 South Florida with 954, UTSA with 963, East Carolina with 966, UNC-Wilmington with 969, Butler with 970 and Siena College with 981.


    Auburn Women’s Golf Finishes 12th At NCAA Regional
    COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Auburn women’s golf team’s 2011-12 season came to a close Saturday as the Tigers finished 12th at the NCAA Central Regional. Auburn carded a final-round 312 to finish the tournament with a 58-over 922. Patricia and Marta Sanz were the top individuals for Auburn, finishing in a tie for 37th.
    Conducted by the NCAA and Ohio State University, the NCAA Central Regional Championship was a 54-hole stroke play tournament played at the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club. The 24-team tournament featured nine teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation. The par-72 course played at 6,264 yards for the tournament.
    The NCAA Central Regional was one of three qualifying tournaments for the NCAA Championship, set for May 22-25 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. The top eight teams from each of the three regionals will advance to the NCAA Championship.
    “It was just not our day,” said Auburn head coach Kim Evans. “The girls really wanted this. We started out alright, but we let the course get to us too much. We missed out on a couple shots and then got too aggressive and this is not a course you can get too aggressive on, it will get you.”
    Sisters Patricia and Marta Sanz were the top finishers for Auburn, placing in a tie for 37th with 14-over 230s. Patricia, a senior, carded a 7-over 79 on Saturday while Marta, a sophomore, came in with a 6-over 78.
    Patricia had a rough first nine with a double-bogey followed by four straight bogeys to make the turn at 5-over. She had a near-perfect second nine with seven pars and a birdie, but a triple-bogey on No. 6 slipped in to give her a 79 on the day. Marta had a similar round, carding 10 straight pars to open, but a stretch on Nos. 2-4 that included two bogeys, a double and a triple dropped her to a 78.
    Also carding a 6-over 78 was freshman Victoria Trapani as she finished her first NCAA Regional in a tie for 48th with a 17-over 233. Trapani had an up-and-down day with three birdies, seven bogeys and a double.
    Junior Carlie Yadloczky took an 11-over 83 on the day, finishing in the tournament in a tie for 57th with a 19-over 235. Senior Haley Wilson carded her best round of the tournament, finishing with a 5-over 77 to move into a tie for 84th with a 23-over 239.
    Southern California won the NCAA Central Regional with a 10-over 874 and will advance to the NCAA Championship. Also advancing to NCAAs are Vanderilt (899), Purdue (902), Tennessee (904), Virginia (905), host Ohio State (908), North Carolina State (911) and Arkansas (913).
    Individually, Southern California’s Lisa McCloskey and Florida State’s Maria Salinas tied for medalist honors with 3-under 213s. Vanderbilt’s Marina Alex finished third with a 1-under 215 while Brittany Altamore (Virginia), Sophia Popov (Southern California) and Emily Tubert (Arkansas) tied for fourth with 2-over 218s. Sanlinas and Georgia’s Rocio Sanchez Lobato, who finished in a tie for 10th with a 2-over 222, will advance to the NCAA Championship as individuals.


    Lady Vols Advance to NCAA Championship with Fourth Place Finish
    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tennessee carded its second-best round of the season in the final 18 holes of the NCAA Central Regional to climb the leader board Saturday, claiming fourth place and punching a ticket to the 2012 NCAA Championship to be held in Nashville May 22-25.
    The Lady Vols capitalized on 17 birdies to finish the Regional’s final round with a two-over 290 tally. The Tennessee score was the second-lowest total of the round.
    “To shoot 290 – that is a great score on this golf course,” head coach Judi Pavon said. “This is a really, really hard course. The four scores of 75 or better were really solid and are really good scores no matter what course you are playing on.”
    Junior Erica Popson paced the Tennessee scores, recording the Big Orange’s only round under par of the weekend with a two-under 70.  The Davenport, Fla., native used four birdies on the back nine to dip under par for the first time in six rounds.
    “I played a lot better today,” Popson said. “I hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens to give myself some good birdie opportunities and I finally made some putts today. “
    All five Tennessee golfers recorded birdies in the final round of the Central Regional. The Lady Vols used solid performances from each player to make the jump up the leader board.
    “I’m really proud of our team,” Popson added. “Everybody played well and it was an amazing team effort to step up on the last day when we really needed to to go to nationals.”
    Aided by a team-high five birdies, senior Nathalie Mansson carded an even 72 in round three. With an 80-76-72=228 tally, the Stockholm, Sweden, native finished the regional tied for 26th position.  

    Tennessee’s low scorer at the regional, sophomore Chessey Thomas turned in a 1-over 73 Saturday. The Spokane, Wash., product earned a share of 14th place with a 74-77-73=224 total.

    Freshman AJ Newell recorded her third consecutive solid round, contributing a 3-over 75 to the team score. The Lady Vol rookie came up with a 75-77-75=227 tally in her first NCAA tournament, earning a share of 23rd place.

    Rounding out the Tennessee scores was junior Sara Monberg whose 77-83-78=238 mark was good for a tie for 75th. 

    With the top-eight finish, the Lady Vols advance to their fourth consecutive NCAA Championships. Tennessee finished 13th in 2011 with the program’s highest finish coming in 2000 when the Big Orange placed fifth at the tournament.
    Southern California's Lisa McCloskey and Florida State’s Maria Salinas finished the regional atop the individual leaderboard with 3-under 213 tallies.
    The No. 1-seeded Trojans finished first with a 10-over 874 total. The other six teams heading to Texas are: Vanderbilt (899), Purdue (902), Virginia (905), Ohio State (908), North Carolina State (911) and Arkansas (913).
    The 2012 NCAA Championship will be held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club May 22-25.


    Sanchez Lobato Qualifies For NCAAs; Bulldogs Fall Short

    COLUMBUS, Ohio --- Freshman Rocio Sanchez Lobato tied for 10th individually at the NCAA Central Regional on Saturday to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs closed with a 14-over 302 at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course and failed to advance to the NCAAs after finishing tied for 10th with Florida State.

    The top-eight teams and top two individual finishers who are not members of those squads advance to the NCAA Championships at Vanderbilt's Legend Club in Fraklin, Tenn., from May 22-25. Georgia fell six shots from eighth place, the team cut for the NCAAs. Sanchez Lobato was the second individual not on an advancing team.

    "I was proud of the effort today," head coach Kelley Hester said. "We had so many birdie opportunities that didn't go in. Today was fine. We didn't give it away today. Yesterday was the real kicker. We were 30-over yesterday. You can't do that. The bookends were pretty good. I think it would be a lot easier to find six shots from yesterday than today."

    Georgia was in second place after round one when the Bulldogs recorded one of only two sub-300 rounds but shot 318 on Friday and slipped to 11th.

    Sanchez Lobato posted the Bulldogs' low score for the third consecutive day, signing 2-over 74 on Saturday. She finished at 6-over 222, nine shots behind co-medalists Lisa McCloskey of Southern Cal and Maria Salinas of Florida State.

    Georgia also counted a pair of 75s from Emilie Burger and Marta Silva Zamora and a 78 from Amelia HIll, while dropping Milena Savich's 83. Overall, Burger tied for 34th at 229, Silva Zamora tied for 45th at 232, Savich tied for 93rd at 241 and Hill tied for 116th at 251.

    Sanchez Lobato's advancement to the NCAA Championships was a bittersweet consolation prize on her 19th birthday. It was her second straight top-10 finish during the postseason. She tied for eighth at the SEC Championships.

    "Ro has done everything we've asked of her," Hester said. "She's the bright spot of this week. She played well and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships. It's just unfortunate that she won't have her teammates there with her. I'm certain she'll go out and give it a good run and try to make the most of the opportunity."

    No. 3 Southern Cal completed its wire-to-wire position atop the team leaderboard by notching a 2-under 286 and finishing at 874. The other seven teams advancing from the Central Regional are No. 10 Vanderbilt, Purdue, No. 14 Tennessee, Virginia, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 22 N.C. State and Arkansas.

    The third-seeded Bulldogs and second-seeded and No. 4-ranked Auburn both failed to qualify. The Tigers finished 12th at 922.

    The Regional ended the career of Marta Silva Zamora, one of the most decorated performers in Georgia Golf history. Silva Zamora was the 2011 National Player of the Year and last week became just the eighth four-time first-team All-SEC honoree in women's golf in league history.


    Kentucky Wraps Up Season at Central Regional
    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Led by senior Ashlee Rose competing in her final event, the University of Kentucky women’s golf team concluded its season after the final round of the Central Regional of the NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio. The Wildcats improved 10 strokes from their Friday score, shooting a 16-over-par 304 on Saturday at Scarlet Course, a par 72, 6,264-yard layout. Kentucky’s 17th place finish will prohibit them from advancing to the NCAA Championship in Franklin, Tenn.

    With a 2-under-par 286 on Saturday, Southern Cal claimed first at the Central Regional. The Trojans’ 10-over-par 874 gave them a commanding 25-stroke victory. Vanderbilt shot an 11-over-par 299 on Sunday to finish the weekend in second at 35-over-par 899. Purdue placed third at 38-over-par 294 following a 6-over-par 294 on Saturday. Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio State, North Carolina State and Arkansas round out the top eight and conclude the teams that will advance to the NCAA Championship.

    Lisa McCloskey of Southern Cal and Florida State’s Maria Salinas finished atop the individual leaderboard at 3-under-par 213. Salinas shot a 2-under-par 70 on Saturday to jump into a tie after McCloskey shot an even-par 72 in the final round. Vanderbilt’s Marina Alex shot an even-par 72 to finish the weekend in third at 1-under-par 215. Emily Tubert shot a 4-under-par 68 to jump nine spots, finishing in a tie for fourth with Sophia Popov of Southern Cal and Virginia’s Brittany Altomare at 2-over-par 218. 
    In her last round as a Wildcat, Rose shot a season-low, even-par 72 to jump 42 spots into a tie for 50th. Rose’s four birdies left her at 18-over-par 234. Junior Ashleigh Albrecht continued her improvement, sinking four birdies in the final round to shoot a 4-over-par 76. Albrecht finished the weekend in a tie for 93rd at 25-over-par.

    Junior Heather Lott finished the weekend just one stroke behind Rose, sitting in a tie for 57th at 19-over-par 235. Lott collected two birdies Saturday afternoon to shoot a 6-over-par 78. Junior Betsie Johnson shot a 6-over-par 78 in the final round to finish weekend in a tie for 75th at 22-over-par 238. Sophomore Liz Breed finished the weekend in a tie for 88th at 24-over-par 240 after shooting an 8-over-par 80 on Sunday.

    The Central Regional marks the end of the season for the Wildcats after failing to finish in the top eight.