It seems like some teams struggle when they play the host role for a tournament. The Florida Gators are not one of those teams.
For the second year in a row and the 20th time in 45 playings of the SunTrust Gator Women’s Invitational, Florida, No. 6 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had four players finish in the top 10, one of whom was competing only as an individual, to cruise to an eight-shot victory over No. 11 Duke Sunday in Gainesville, Fla. It was another eight shots back to third place, which belonged to Central Florida, ranked 25th.
Florida opened with rounds of 5-over-par 285 and even-par 280 over the 6,002-yard, par-70 Mark Bostick Golf Course layout during Saturday’s double round and then carded a solid 2-over 282 in Sunday’s final round for a 7-over 847 total.
Duke followed up an opening-round 289 with a pair of 283s to take runnerup honors at 15-over 855. It was the second straight runnerup finish for the Blue Devils, who also finished second at last week’s Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
UCF posted a final-round 284 for a 23-over 863 total. It was another 19 shots back to No. 54 Campbell in fourth at 42-over 882. No. 38 Clemson finished fifth at 884 after a final-round 287 and No. 57 Maryland finished sixth in the 13-team field at 889 after a final-round 299.
The Gators were led by individual champion Maria Torres, a senior from Puerto Rico. Torres trailed Duke’s Leona Maguire, a junior from Ireland and the No. 1 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, by a shot following Saturday’s double round. But Torres ripped off a 4-under 66 in Sunday’s final round to finish at 5-under 205, two shots ahead of Maguire.
Maguire carded a 1-under 69, one of only five sub-par rounds in the final round, to finish second at 3-under 207.
The low round in the final round was the 3-under 67 fired by Florida’s Karolina Vickova, a senior from the Czech Republic who was competing as an individual. The sparkling final round left Vickova alone in third place in the individual standings, four shots behind Magure at 1-over 211.
Florida’s Marta Perez SanMartin, a freshman from Spain, shared fourth place with UCF’s Ashley Holder, a senior from Orlando, Fla., at 3-over 213. The Gators' Perez SanMartin had a final-round 71 while the Golden Knights’ Holder posted a 2-over 72 in the final round.
Taylor Tomlinson, a junior from Gainesville, was the fourth Gator to record a top-10 finish as she ended up in a tie for ninth at 6-over 216. Tomlinson went 71, 70 during Saturday’s 36-hole test before falling back a little with a final-round 75.
Samantha Wagner, a sophomore from Windermere, Fla. and Kelly Grassel, a senior from Chesterton, Ind., both finished in a group tied for 11th at 7-over 217. Wagner, a former junior phenom, helped the team cause with a final-round 71 while Grassel’s final-round 74 was also a counter for the Gators.
There was news from the Duke camp on the absence of reigning NCAA individual champion Virginia Elena Carta, a sophomore from Italy, from the contingent that traveled to Hilton Head Island for the Darius Rucker. Carta, who took the U.S. Women’s Amateur final at Rolling Green Golf Club to the 36th and final hole before falling to South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong last summer, missed the Darius Rucker while recovering from having her tonsils removed.
Carta finished tied for 27th at the SunTrust at 14-over 224. Her 74 in the middle round was a counter for the Blue Devils and she finished up with a solid 73.
Backing up Maguire’s runnerup finish for Duke was Gurbani Singh, a junior from India who finished tied for seventh at 5-over 215. Singh had a 1-under 69 in the middle round before posting a final-round 73.
Duke’s veteran Sandy Choi, a senior from South Korea, finished up with a solid 71 to finish tied for 11th at 7-over 217. Ana Belac, a freshman from Slovenia, matched par in the final round with a 70 to finish tied for 14th at 8-over 218.
Leona Maguire’s twin sister Lisa competed as an individual and finished tied for 69th at 235.