The No.12 University of Florida women’s golf team will advance to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year after finishing in a tie for fourth at the NCAA East Regional in State College, Pa. The Gators posted a tournament total of 879 (294-297-288, +15) on their way to their best finish at a NCAA Regional tournament since 2008.
“Regionals are all about playing really solid golf, and that’s exactly what we did. The team put themselves in a good position right from the beginning of the tournament and we were able to accomplish our goal,” head coach Jan Dowling said. “This course is sneaky tough. The rough was high off the fairways and around the greens and the putting surfaces got firm and fast as the weekend progressed. I’m most proud of my team for following our game plan and staying patient and committed.”
Senior Evan Jensen (Belleair, Fla.) led the charge for the Gators playing consistent golf all tournament and placing in a tie for eighth, the highest a Gator has finished at regionals since Tiffany Chudy placed in a tie for seventh in 2008. Jensen carded a 217 (72-74-71, +1) and recorded her third top-10 finish of the year. Jensen also finished with a team-best nine birdies.
“My seniors really lead our team this weekend, in particular today and the first round. Both Evan and Andrea got off to hot starts, which gave us momentum for the rest of the round,” Dowling explained. “Evan should be particularly proud. She has really battled an elbow injury for literally the past two years and hasn’t been able to hit as many balls in practice that she would like. She really is a great competitor and a great leader for this team.”
Junior Mia Piccio (Bacolod City, Philippines) finished strong with a final round 71 (-1) to give her a 54-hole total of 220 (+4). Piccio, who led the team in pars with 39, finished tied for 14th.
“Mia got under par today and I know she feels like it’s been a long time coming. I’m really proud that she was able to get under par when it counts the most,” said Dowling
The Gators received solid final rounds from senior Andrea Watts (Bradenton, Fla.) and junior Isabelle Lendl (Goshen, Conn.). Watts handed in an even par 72 on the final day while Lendl posted a two-over 74. Watts finished in a tie for 29th with a 222 (72-78-72, +6) and Lendl finished in a tie for 83rd with a 232 (81-77-74, +16).
Freshman Camilla Hedberg (Sitges, Spain) finished in a tie for 51st after posting a tournament total of 226 (76-71-79, +10).
No. 25 South Carolina placed first after holding the lead after the first two rounds. The Gamecocks posted a 873 (288-294-291, +9), five shots better than Texas and Texas A&M. Katerina Ruzickova of Texas A&M took home medalist honors after shooting a three under 213.
The Gators will travel to Franklin, Tenn. for the NCAA Championships May 22-25. The tournament is hosted by Vanderbilt University and will be played at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. The Gators placed in a tie for 10th at last year’s NCAA Championships.
“We are really excited about our opportunity to compete for a national championship next week in Nashville,” Dowling continued. “After our tenth place finish last year, we are hungry to get ourselves back in the mix, especially because we know we have grown as a team.”
Courtesy UF Communications