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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Whaley, North Carolina sweep titles at Cougar Classic

   It is the digital age, so it only takes a few keystrokes to “rewrite the record book.” Still, there’s work to be done on the North Carolina women’s golf record book after Kelly Whaley and the Tar Heels smashed the program’s individual and team marks as the Cougar Classic concluded Tuesday at The Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan, S.C.
   Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., fired a 4-under 68 over the 6,224-yard, par-72 Yeamans Hall layout to capture the individual title with an 11-under 205 total, the best 54-hole total in program history.
   And that wasn’t the only record that fell Tuesday. Whaley’s effort, the first individual tournament win for a Tar Heel in three years, led North Carolina to the team title as it posted a final round of 9-under 279 for a 26-under 838 total. It was easily the lowest total in a 54-hole event in program history. It was also the lowest score in the history of the Cougar Classic.
   The Tar Heels trailed Furman by a shot entering the final round, but the Paladins backed off a little with an even-par 288 to finish second at 18-under 846, eight shots behind North Carolina.
   A couple of North Carolina’s ACC rivals, Wake Forest and Florida State, were next in third and fourth place, respectively. Wake Forest had a final-round 284 for a 13-under 851 total. Florida State was another four shots back at 9-under 855 after a final-round 284. Central Florida was another shot back in fifth at 8-under 856 after a final-round 289. Michigan finished sixth, seven shots behind Central Florida at 1-under 863 after a final-round 293.
   Penn State had a final-round 297 to finish 16th in a strong 21-team field at 882.
   Behind Whaley, North Carolina got a pair of 2-under rounds of 70, one of them by freshman Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor. Walker had a tough start to the Cougar Classic with an opening-round 79 that the Tar Heels were able to toss, but she counted in each of the next two rounds with a 71 and a 70 and finished in a tie for 45th at 4-over 220.
   It is not unusual to see Walker experience team success. She was a key member on Radnor’s 2012 PIAA Class AAA girls team title as a freshman and then led the Radnor boys to the 2015 PIAA Class AAA team title a year ago as a senior. She has twice teamed with Penn State freshman Madelein Herr for deep runs in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship and helped Pennsylvania finish third in the 2015 USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
   North Carolina’s other 70 came from Leslie Coots and it capped a strong showing by the senior from Belgium, who finished in a tie for eighth in the individual standings at 5-under 211.
   Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill, was the fourth counter Tuesday for the Tar Heels with a 1-under 71. She finished in a tie for 19th in the individual standings at 1-under 215 and was joined at that figure by teammate Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md. Nguyen had a final-round 75.
   Whaley needed to be good to win the individual title as she finished just a shot ahead of South Carolina’s Katelyn Dambaugh, a senior from Goose Creek, S.C. and the runnerup to UCLA’s Bronte Law last spring for the Annika Award that goes to the Division I Player of the Year. The left-hander, who helped the United States finish sixth in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship last month, ripped off her third round in the 60s at Yeamans Hall, this one a 3-under 69, to finish at 10-under 206. It was the lowest 54-hole score in program history.
    Wake Forest’s Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas, had held or shared the individual lead after each of the first two rounds, but backed up a little with an even-par 72 Tuesday. But her 9-under 207 total left her alone in third place.
   Sims’ teammate, Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo., was one of three players who finished tied for third at 7-under 209. Kupcho, one of the top freshman in the country last season, had a final round of 4-under 68.
   Kupcho was joined at 209 by Louisville’s Lauren Hartlage, a freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky., and Furman’s Haylee Harford, a sophomore from Leavittsburg, Ohio. Both matched par with a 72 in the final round.
   In addition to Sims and Kupcho, Wake Forest got a 1-under 71 from freshman Sierra Brooks, the runnerup at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur who finished in a tie for 50th at 5-over 211. Antonia Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, had a final-round 73 and finished in a tie for 22nd at even-par 216.
   The Demon Deacons were able to toss a 3-over 75 by freshman Mathilda Cappeliez, a semifinalist at this summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club from France. Cappeliez signed an incorrect scorecard in the first round which invalidated her score, but she counted for Wake Forest with a second-round 73 and figures to be a key contributor for the Demon Deacons as the season wears on.
   Penn State was led by sophomore Lauren Waller, the former Canon-McMillan standout who had an even-par 72 in the final round and finished tied for 34th at 3-over 219.
   Sophomore Cara Basso, the 2012 PIAA Class AA champion at Villa Maria Academy, had a 75 and finished in a tie for 59th at 222 and sophomore Jackie Rogowicz, a two-time District One champion at Pennsbury, had a 76 and finished in a tie for 62nd at 223.
   Penn State was able to toss the 77 posted by Herr, the District One champion at Council Rock North a year ago and Walker’s partner in those two successful Four-Ball runs. Still, it was a solid showing for Herr, who finished tied for 70th at 224. Teammate Kate Granahan, a graduate student who starred at Parkland High, had a 74 and joined Herr in the group tied for 70th at 224.

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