Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor, opened her collegiate career by finishing tied for 23rd in the individual standings and helping North Carolina finish eighth in the team standings at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship Tuesday at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn.
Walker carded a 1-over 72 over the 5,897-yard, par-71 Cherokee Country Club layout in Tuesday’s final round after opening up with rounds of 75 and an even-par 71 in Monday’s double round.
The Tar Heels, ranked 26th in the latest Golfstat rankings, had a solid even-par 284 in the middle round but struggled in the opening round with a 296 and in the final round with a 292. It added up to a 20-over 872 total.
North Carolina was led by Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn. who qualified for match play in last month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club. Whaley sandwiched a pair of 72s around an even-par 71 in the middle round as she finished in a tie for 10th at 2-over 215.
Also for the Tar Heels, Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill. finished in a tie for 16th at 3-over 216. Harkins fired a 2-under 69 in the middle round before finishing up with a 72. Mariana Ocano, a freshman from St. Petersburg, Fla. finished in a tie for 45th at 223 and Killian Casson, a sophomore from Greenville, N.C., finished in a tie for 61st at 228. Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md., competed as an individual and was in the group tied for 45th along with Ocano at 223.
Florida, ranked No. 7, captured the team title with a 2-under 850 total as the Gators went under par in the opening round with a 281 and in the final round with a 280 around a middle round of 289.
Florida was led by Kelly Grassel, a senior from Chesterton, Ind. who was the runnerup in the individual chase with rounds of 68, 71 and 69 for a 5-under 208.
The individual title went to Kent State’s Pimnipa Pathong, a freshman from Thailand. Pathong had rounds of 67, 68 and 70 for an 8-under 205 total.
Pathong helped No. 16 Kent State share runnerup honors in the team standings with Illinois, ranked 59th, at 3-over 855. Kent State went under par with a 283 middle round while Illinois cooled off after a sizzling opening round of 6-under 278.
Brigham Young, ranked 37th, finished alone in fourth at 12-over 864, tournament host Tennessee, ranked 22nd, and Maryland, ranked 131st, shared fifth place at 865 and No. 41 SMU was alone in seventh place at 869.
Walker’s scholastic rival at Council Rock North, Erica Herr, a junior at Wake Forest who is also a two-time PIAA champion, finished in a tie for 38th at 9-over 222 with three straight 74s.
It was a little bit of a disappointing start team-wise for the Demon Deacons, ranked 30th. They finished in a tie for 10th with No. 103 Mississippi at 879.
Wake Forest was led by standout sophomore Jennifer Kupcho of Littleton, Colo., who finished in a tie for eighth at 1-over 214. Kupcho shot out of the gate with a 2-under 69 in Monday’s opening round.
Making her collegiate debut, Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla., the runnerup at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur and a member of the 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team, finished in a tie for 19th at 4-over 217 with rounds of 72, 74 and 71,