Alabama Women’s Golf Wins First NCAA Championship
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – After 29 years coaching women’s collegiate golf, Alabama head coach Mic Potter and his Crimson Tide program are National Champions.
Senior Brooke Pancake made a fantastic two-putt for par on the par-5 18th hole to secure Alabama’s first national championship outside of football and women’s gymnastics. Pancake’s 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th hit the hole and went 4-foot past the hole. She then calmly knocked in the par putt to secure the one-shot win over Southern California.
"When I was standing over (the putt), I kind of had the feeling of, ‘This is my moment I’ve put four years into it, and I can’t think of a better way to finish my senior year,” Pancake said.
The Crimson Tide shot 6-over 294 on Friday for a 72-hole total of 19-over 1,171 on the par-72, 6,377-yard North Course at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. Southern California was second at 1,172 while LSU was third at 21-over 1,173. Virginia (1,175) and South Carolina (1,176) rounded out the top five.
"I had a lot of confidence (Brooke) was going to make it, so I don’t think I was real surprised, but definitely I was relieved,” Potter said. “I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but it was a lot of fun. I have a lot of confidence in these girls, so I knew it was a definite possibility, but golf is a game where we could play as well as we could and still not win. To me it was all about keeping with the process and making sure we saved every shot we could today.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m sure tomorrow it will be a dream come true.”
Pancake, in her home state for her final collegiate tournament, finished runner-up in the individual race at 2-under-par 286. Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil captured medalist honors at 6-under-par 282. Pancake, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native fired rounds of 68, 70, 75 and 73.
"This means so much to him (Potter),” Pancake said. “I can’t explain it -- he has been so close so many times, I’m so honored I got to be on the team that did it for him. For him to have hugged me with tears in his eyes afterwards, it was incredible.”
Hannah Collier, a native of Birmingham, Ala., fired the Tide’s lowest score of the final round with a 2-under-par 70. She made par on the difficult 16th hole, birdie on the 17th and then went for the green in two, hitting her fairway wood roughly 17-feet past the hole and two putted for birdie. Collier finished tied 33rd at 8-over 296.
Junior Jennifer Kirby posted a 74 in Friday’s final round and finished tied for 14th at 5-over 293. Stephanie Meadow rebounded in the final round to shoot 77, but was 5-over after five holes and played the final 13 holes in even par. Meadow finished tied for 38th at 9-over 297. Courtney McKim was Alabama’s drop score at 78 on Friday.
Alabama’s National Championship came on the Crimson Tide’s eighth visit to the NCAA Finals. It was Potter’s seventh trip to the NCAAs at Alabama and his 22nd NCAA Championships appearance overall for the NGCA Hall of Famer.
Razorback women’s golf wraps up season Friday
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Golf is a marathon, not a sprint, and the University of Arkansas women’s golf team needed every drop in the tank to survive the grueling four-day 2012 NCAA Championship in Franklin, Tenn., this week.
Conditions were tough all week with high temperatures reaching the 90s and fast, hard greens that were a challenge to read.
Arkansas, ranked No. 34 in this week’s Golfstat.com, rankings, finished 23rd shooting a four-day 1214 with rounds of 303-301-209-301 at Vanderbilt University’s Legends Course just outside of Nashville, Tenn.
“It was a little better today,” Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said, “but we were in a position that it was really hard to climb out of. But as always, being in a National Championship is an amazing experience. It’s an opportunity for this team to grow. We have no seniors and when I really look back on it, this group had an amazing experience this week. They have learned a lot from it and will grow.”
The Razorbacks finished 23rd overall with a 1214 that included rounds of 303-301-309-301. They were 62 strokes over on the par 72, 6,264 yard course for the week.
Individually, the Razorbacks were paced by sophomore Emily Tubert who finished eight-over with 296. Tubert shot 73-74-77-72 over the four days. The Burbank, Calif., native birdied No. 9 all four rounds and birdied No. 7 three times. She played the front nine holes even for the week and the back nine plus eight.
Emma Lavy finished with a 303 with rounds of 75-77-78-73. The Fayetteville, Ark., native birdied No. 7 three of the four days.
Sophomore Emily Podzielinski took part in her first collegiate NCAA Championship shooting 305 with rounds of 78-72-76-79. Junior Victoria Vela carded a 312 shooting 77-78-78-79 and freshman Hally Leadbetter rounded out the Razorback scoring shooitng 315 with rounds of 79-80-79-77.
“To have this experience two years in a row is a special thing,” said Estes-Taylor. “The more we can be here the more we learn and grow as a team.”
Arkansas was making its fifth NCAA Championship appearance and it’s second consecutive. Arkansas finished a program-best tied for fifth last year.
Lady Vol Golf Places 19th at NCAA Championships
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Par or better performances from three Lady Vols led the No. 14-ranked Tennessee golf team to a 2-under 286 final round score and a 19th-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Golf Championships on Friday.
The team’s fourth round total ties the best mark of the season previously scored in the first round of the Cougar Classic this fall. The Lady Vols tallied a 300-307-307-286=1200 to move three slots up the leader board on the Championships’ final day.
“They know they were better than they have been playing it was great to have a good round to end the season,” head coach Judi Pavon said. “They had pride in themselves and played the kind of golf they are capable of playing.”
Sophomore Chessey Thomas played a clean round Friday, carding her round of 70 at the par-72 Vanderbilt Legends Club Course without recording a bogey. The Spokane, Wash., native made par on her first seven holes before birdieing holes 17 and 18. Making the turn at two under, Thomas finished out the round by shooting par on every hole of her second nine and was Tennessee’s top finisher at the national championship with a 76-78-74-70=298 (+10) mark and a share of 45th place.
Freshman AJ Newell posted the low round of her collegiate career with a 70 in round four. The Tampa, Fla., product got off to a rough start, finding herself two over par through three holes, but righted the ship, using four birdies to come in two under par. She put together a four-day total of 307 – good for a share of 93rd place.
Junior Erica Popson added an even par round of 72 to the Tennessee effort Friday, making it a dozen rounds of par or better for her this season. A native of Davenport, Fla., Popson tied for 63rd at the tournament with a 77-76-76-72=301 total.
The trio was joined in the lineup at the Orange and White’s fourth consecutive NCAA Championships by senior Nathalie Mansson and junior Sara Monberg who each shot 2-over 74s in the tournament’s final round.
Mansson, the only Lady Vol to play in the NCAA Championships in each of her four years, took 70th with a four-day total of 74-76-78-74=302 (+14) in her last tournament at UT. She concludes her Lady Vol career as the program’s leader in career rounds of par or better with 39 and is third in program history with 16 top-10 finishes in her time at Tennessee.
Monberg finished the NCAA Championships tied for 93rd with a 75-77-81-74=307 (+19) total. She rebounded from four bogeys in the first six holes on Friday to play even-par golf the second nine.
No. 2 Alabama won the national championship with a 19-over 1,171 total, edging No. 3 Southern California by one stroke.
Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil fired three rounds under par en route to medalist honors (6-under 282).
Tennessee concludes the 2011-12 campaign with two tournament team titles, five top-five finishes and one medalist winner. Four of five NCAA Championships participants are set to return to Rocky Top in the fall.
Dores show fight on final day
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt women's golf team was not about to let the 2012 NCAA Championships conclude on their home course without closing out strong.
The Commodores did just that in the fourth and final round of the NCAA Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club, shooting a three-under 285 to finish in 11th place. It took a strong finish, as Vandy got 11 birdies on the final four holes.
Senior Marina Alex, playing in her final collegiate round, was up-and-down early, but capped her career with four-straight birdies on holes six-nine. Alex shot even par on both sides, finishing at 72.
Alex capped the championship at +5 (293) and finished tied for 14th on the individual leaderboard.
Lauren Stratton rebounded from a rough third round to card the best Vanderbilt score of the day and the top score of the morning session, a three-under 69. Stratton used two birdies on the back and two on the front (as well as a bogey on eight) to finish at +7 for the championship.
Kendall Martindale shot an even-par 72. Martindale was two-over at the turn thanks to a bogey on 16 and a double bogey on 17, but rebounded with three birdies on the final four holes to get back to even. Martindale caps the Championship at eight-over.
Anna Leigh Keith also shot even par, but turned in quite the colorful card. Keith had six birdies, but also had four bogeys and a double bogey to finish at 72. Keith completed the championship at +15.
Rene Sobolewski had the high round of the day and did not score for Vanderbilt. She shot a seven-over 79 to finish the championship at +30.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Greg Allen was proud of his team.
"I told them they played well and responded well, twice this week," Allen said. "It's too bad we couldn't play every round in the morning."
The Commodores shot rounds of 284 and 285 on the days they played in the morning (second and fourth rounds), compared to 306 and 311 in the afternoons (first and third rounds).
Allen was especially proud of Alex and her string of four birdies to cap her career.
"What a way for her to go out," Allen said. "I told her she's by far the best player to ever come through our program and one of the best athletes to ever play at Vanderbilt."
Alex was a two-time SEC Player of the Year and the third first team All-American to play at Vanderbilt.
Looking to the future, Allen knows Stratton and company have a bright future.
"It's hard to replace Marina, but that's (Stratton's) job," Allen said. "Anna Leigh did a good job and had a strong finish. Kendall got a lot of great experience (as well). We're really excited about where we're headed."
Alabama captured the team championship at 19-over, besting Southern Cal by one stroke. The Tide clinched the title when Tennessee native Brooke Pancake made a five-foot putt to save par on the 18th.
Oklahoma's Chirpat Jao-Javanil took the individual title at six-under (282). Pancake placed second with a two-under 286.
Gamecocks Conclude Stellar Week in Fifth Place at NCAA Championship
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The South Carolina women’s golf team wrapped up one of the most successful seasons in program history on Friday as it posted a final-round 293 (+5) to finish in fifth-place at the 2012 NCAA Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
The Gamecocks closed out the week with a four-round total of 1,176, which is the lowest 72-hole score in program history, breaking the previous record of 1,186 from the 2010 NCAA Championship. Carolina’s fifth-place finish is also the program’s best finish at a NCAA Championship, surpassing the 1995 team’s tie for ninth showing. The Gamecocks came up just five strokes short of first place.
“I was really proud of the way that they fought all day,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “They went out to play to win this deal and they hung in there all day. We finished very strong, which I was exceptionally happy about. It was a tough day. Five-over was a very strong round. It wasn’t enough, but we walk away with our heads very high.”
As she has for the majority of her career, senior Katie Burnett closed out her final tournament by leaving her mark on the Gamecock record book. The Brunswick, Ga., native carded a final-round 73 (+1) to claim fifth place with a total of 288 (E), which is the best finish ever by a Gamecock at the NCAA Championship. Her 72-hole score is also the second best all-time at South Carolina, as she came up two strokes short of her total of 286 at the 2010 NCAA Championship. Burnett leaves the program as the all-time leader in scoring with a career average of 74.18. The top-five finish is the eighth of her career, moving her into a tie with Benedicte Toumpsin for third in career top-five showings. Burnett’s final scorecard as a Gamecock consisted of six birdies, two bogeys, a double bogey, a triple bogey and eight pars.
“Words can’t say enough about Katie,” Harris said of Burnett, who has been the Gamecocks’ top finisher in 12 straight tournaments dating back to last season. “She’s been a tremendous leader for us and has made a tremendous impact. Her golf speaks for itself. She is going to have an unbelievable professional career. I wish Katie the best. She’s going to be hard shoes to fill.”
Junior Amanda Strang put together her best round of the week as she fired a 2-under 70 to lead the squad on Friday. She finished in a tie for 21st with a total of 294 (+6), making it her best NCAA Championship showing in three tries. Strang had a stellar front nine with three birdies and six pars to make the turn at 3-under. She hit a rough stretch with three bogeys on her first four holes on the back nine but she finished strong, recording birdies on her final two holes to head into the clubhouse at 2-under. Strang lowered her career scoring average to 76.07 to move into fifth place all-time at Carolina.
Junior Meredith Swanson, who battled back from a sluggish start in the first round, closed out a solid week with a final-round 78 (+6) to finish in a tie for 59th with a total of 300 (+12). Swanson recorded six bogeys and 12 pars for her round.
Freshman Justine Dreher and sophomore Suzie Lee each posted a 3-over 75 to count toward the team’s total on Friday. Dreher tied for 77th with a total of 304 (+16), while Lee tied for 84th with a total of 305 (+17).
Dreher played her best round of the tournament, recording two birdies, five bogeys and 11 pars. She closes out her freshman campaign with a scoring average of 75.5, which ranks third all-time for a freshman at South Carolina. Lee carded one birdie, four bogeys and 14 pars on the day.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” Harris said. “They really came on late in the season, which is a good time to start peaking. They have a lot of heart and are a tough team, which is very important to me. They have just taken on the characteristics that (director of golf) Puggy (Blackmon) and I love. They have bought in, and I could not be prouder of this team.”
Second-ranked Alabama became the first SEC team to win a national title since 2001 by posting a final round 294 (+6), winning by one stroke over Southern California with a total of 1,171 (+19). LSU placed third with a score of 1,173 (+21), while Virginia took fourth with a total of 1,175 (+23). Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil claimed medalist honors with a total of 282 (-6).
Sanchez Lobato Finishes 71st At NCAAs
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Georgia freshman Rocio Sanchez Lobato carded a 7-over 79 in Friday's final round of the NCAA Championships at Vanderbilt's Legends Club and finished 71st individually at 15-over 303.
Sanchez Lobato struggled with a stomach ailment early in the day but rebounded to regain three strokes before wilting late in the round.
"I couldn't be prouder of the way 'Ro' fought today when things weren't going well," head coach Kelley Hester said. "She showed a great deal of heart and represented the University of Georgia and her team very well."
Sanchez Lobato labored through a disastrous start, with bogeys at No. 1 and No. 2 and double-bogeys at No. 3 and No. 4 to fall to 6-over. The back-to-back doubles came after she had just one such mark during the first 54 holes of the NCAAs.
"I was feeling a little sick before the round but I thought it was just nerves," Sanchez Lobato said. "After I got off the bad start, it only got worse. I tried to eat something but that only made it worse."
Following another bogey at No. 6, Sanchez Lobato rallied with birdies at No. 7 and No. 9 to turn at 5-over. She saw an athletic trainer at the turn and then birdied No. 11 but failed to make up additional ground.
"There are no easy birdies on this course," Sanchez Lobato said. "When I got behind, even when I made a couple of birdies, I was still 4-over. I just couldn't get back close to par. Some days you just don't have it. You can't fix it. It just doesn't happen."
Sanchez Lobato fell back to 7-over after she bogeyed No. 15 and doubled No. 17.
"'Ro' got behind early but fought back," Hester said. "I think late in the day a combination of not feeling well and the heat and it being the last round caught up to her and she gave a few back. She did make a great par putt on No. 18 end her year on a good note."
Although disappointed she slipped more than 30 spots on the leaderboard during the final round, Sanchez Lobato was pleased with her initial campaign at Georgia.
"I enjoyed my year so much," she said. "I'm excited about coming back next year and improving even more and coming back to the NCAAs next year with my teammates."
Georgia will host the 2013 NCAA Championships at the University of Georgia Golf Course on May 21-24. It will make the third time the UGA Course has hosted the NCAA Women's Championships, following 1983 and 1993. UGA also hosted the AIAW Nationals on multiple occasions.