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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Texas A&M dominates in Hawaii; strong showing from Wake Forest trio

   Texas A&M, led by individual champion Maddie Szeryk, dominated the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational which concluded Wednesday at the Kane’ohe Klipper Golf Course in Kane’ohe, Hawaii in a repeat team win for the Aggies.
   It was also a pretty good trip for a trio from Wake Forest, which is all the beleaguered Demon Deacons, No. 13 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had available to send to the island of Oahu. I had a post earlier this week chronicling the woes Wake Forest has been through this year, headlined by the departure last week of freshman Mathilda Cappeliez, who returned home to France.
   At the top of the list of players competing as individuals at Kane’ohe Klipper were the three Wake Forest players.
   Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo., really got back on track with rounds of 70 and 71 in Tuesday’s double round over the 6,099-yard, par-72 Kane’ohe Klipper layout and another 2-under-par 70 in Wednesday’s final round to finish alone in second, four shots back of Szeryk, at 5-under 211.
   Kupcho is looking more like the player who was one of the top freshmen in the country last year. She suffered a concussion after a fall from a golf cart during the Northrop Gruman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. last month. It’s been that kind of spring for Wake Forest.
   Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas, has been a model of consistency all season and she earned another top-10 finish, ending up in a tie for ninth at 1-under 215. Sims opened up with a 4-under 68 before rounds of 74 and 73.
   Junior Erica Herr, a two-time PIAA champion at Council Rock North, continued her solid play in the spring portion of Wake’s campaign, finishing tied for 26th at 6-over 222. Herr matched par in the opening round with a 72 and followed it with a pair of 75s.
   No. 16 Texas A&M validated its status as the highest-ranked team in the field with a convincing 15-shot victory over No. 19 Oklahoma State. The Aggies had rounds of 5-under 283 and 1-over 289 in Tuesday’s double round and finished it off with a 1-under 287 Wednesday for a 5-under 859 total.
   Oklahoma State bounced back from an opening-round 297 with rounds of even-par 288 and 1-over 289 to earn runnerup honors at 10-over 874. It was a couple of strong showings by lower-ranked teams for the next two spots as No. 62 Washington State took third with an 11-over 875 total and No. 64 Idaho was fourth with a 13-over 877 total. The Cougars’ effort was highlighted by a 2-under 286 in the middle round while the Vandals finished strong with a 1-over 289 in the final round.
   No. 21 Texas finished fifth at 16-over 880 after a final-round 294, No. 24 North Carolina State was sixth at 19-over 883 after a final-round 294 and No. 37 SMU took seventh at 21-over 885 after a final round of 3-under 885.
   Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA champion at Radnor, and North Carolina finished eighth at 23-over 887, bouncing back from an opening-round 303 with rounds of 289 and 295. The Tar Heels finished a shot head of host Hawaii, ranked 136th, which finished ninth at 24-over 888 after a final-round 299.
   Szeryk, a junior from Allen, Texas, opened up with a 5-under 67 to gain control of the individual battle. She added a 1-under 71 in the middle round and closed out with a 3-under 69 for a 9-under 207 total.
   Three players finished tied for third, a shot back of Kupcho at 4-under 212. They were Texas State’s Anne-Charlotte Mora, a sophomore from France, Washington State’s Alivia Brown, a junior from Gig Harbor, Wash., and SMU’s Lindsey McCurdy, a senior from Kyle, Texas. Mora and Brown each carded a 4-under 68 in the middle round while McCurdy finished up with a 2-under 70 in the final round.
   Courtney Dow, a freshman from Frisco, Texas, backed up Szeryk’s winning effort for the Aggies by finishing sixth at 3-under 213 after a final round of 3-under 69. Bianca Fabrizio, a senior from Italy, finished tied for 23rd at 5-over 221, Andrea Jonama, a senior from Spain, finished tied for 40th at 225 and Thanya Pattamakijsakul, a senior from Thailand, finished tied for 43rd at 226. Fabrizio’s 3-under 69 was the low round for the Aggies in the middle round.
   North Carolina’s eighth-place finish was highlighted by a career low of 6-under 66 in the final round by Leslie Cloots, a senior from Belgium. Cloots has struggled this spring, but that sizzling final round vaulted her into a tie for ninth at 1-under 215.
   Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., finished tied for 32nd at 223, her 2-under 70 in the middle round sparking the Tar Heels to their best team round. Bryana Nguyen, a junior from    Columbia, Md., finished tied for 36th at 224 after a final-round 74.
   Walker, a freshman who was also a key figure on two state championship teams at Radnor, had an even-par 72 in the middle round, but a final-round 78 left her in a tie for 40th at 225. Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill., struggled while playing through an illness and finished tied for 85th at 242.

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