August Kim, the reigning Big Ten champion, continued her rock solid play of late, but her Purdue teammates struggled in the final round as the Boilermakers saw Kent State sneak past them for a one-shot victory in the Henssler Financial Intercollegiate, which concluded Tuesday at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw, Ga.
Kim, a senior from St. Augustine, Fla., was the model of consistency in banging out three straight 1-under-par rounds of 71 over the 6,032-yard, par-72 Pinetree layout, two in Monday’s double round and one more Tuesday. Kim’s 3-under 213 total earned her a share of the individual title with Kent State’s Pimnipa Panthong, a freshman from Thailand.
Panthong opened the tournament with a bang, carding a 5-under 67 before a pair of 1-over 73s left her with a 213 total. Kim’s three straight sub-par rounds gave her six straight rounds of par or better.
Purdue, No. 23 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had a three-shot lead heading into the final round after opening up with a 1-over 289 and adding a solid 2-under 286 in the middle round. No. 14 Kent State was six shots behind the Boilers after opening with a 3-under 285 and posting a 296 in the middle round.
But Purdue, coming off a team win in the 3M Augusta Invitational a week earlier, also in Georgia, couldn’t sustain its momentum. The Boilermakers slipped to a final-round 302 to finish at 13-over 877 while the Golden Flashes posted a 7-over 295 that gave them a 12-over 876 total and a one-shot edge on Purdue.
No. 36 Texas Tech was another shot behind Purdue in third at 14-over 878 after matching par with a 288 in the final round. No. 27 Illinois took fourth at 21-over 885 after a final-round 206. No. 44 Augusta was fifth at 23-over 887 after a final-round 293.
No. 70 Memphis trailed Purdue by just three shots after firing a 5-under 283 in the second round, but fell back with a final-round 313 to share sixth place with No. 59 Maryland. The Terrapins had the best team round of the tournament, a 7-under 281, in the middle round before struggling home with a 309 in the final round.
Kent State got another top-10 finish from Wad Phaewchimpiee, a senior from Thailand who has been a standout for the Golden Flashes for four years. Phaewchimpiee had a final-round 76 to finish in a tie for eighth at 2-over 218.
Michaela Finn, a sophomore from Sweden, had a huge even-par 72 in the final round that was probably the difference for Kent State. It enabled her to finish in a tie for 23rd at 223. She was joined at that figure by Karoline Stormo, a freshman from Norway whose final-round 74 was also a key return for the Golden Flashes.
Rounding out the Kent State effort was freshman Marissa Kirkwood, a product of Neshannock High from Newcastle, Pa. who finished 79th at 240 after a final-round 84.
Also for Purdue, Covadonga SanJuan, a sophomore from Spain, finished in a tie for 12th at 4-over 220. But SanJuan followed up an outstanding 3-under 69 in the second round with a final-round 79 that the Boilermakers tossed.
Three other Boilermakers all carded a 77 in the final round. Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru, finished in a tie for 14th at 221, Marta Martin, a junior from Spain, finished in a tie for 41st at 227 and Linn Andersson, a junior from Sweden, finished tied for 44th at 228.
The individual champion from the 3M Augusta Invitational was also in the field at the Henssler Financial and Augusta’s Jessica Haigwood, a senior from Roswell, Ga., put together another strong showing in finishing a shot behind Kim and Panthong in third at 2-under 214. After matching par in both trips around Pinetree Monday, Haigwood posted a 2-under 70 in Tuesday’s final round.
Troy’s Fatima Fernandez Cano, a senior from Spain, and Texas Tech’s Sofia Garcia, a freshman from Paraguay, finished in a tie for fourth at 1-under 215. Cano moved into contention with a 4-under 68 in the second round before finishing up with a 1-over 73 while Garcia opened up with a 68 and carded a 2-under 70 in the final round around a 77 in Monday afternoon’s second round.