The gang was all there.
The Bryan National Collegiate was staged this weekend at Bryan Park’s Champions Course in Browns Summit, N.C., but it was something of a reunion for many of the top Pennsylvania girls scholastic golfers, particularly from District One, since, say 2010 or so.
Wake Forest junior Erica Herr, the PIAA Class AAA champion in 2011 and 2012 at Council Rock North, was there. Notre Dame sophomore Isabella DiLisio, the PIAA Class AAA champion in 2013 at Mount St. Joseph, was there. North Carolina freshman Brynn Walker, the PIAA Class AAA champion in 2014 and 2015 at Radnor, was there.
The Penn State portion of the group includes sophomore Cara Basso, the 2012 PIAA Class AA champion at Villa Maria Academy, sophomore Jackie Rogowicz, the runnerup to Erica Herr at the state tournament in 2011 and 2012 and a two-time District One champion at Pennsbury, sophomore Lauren Waller, the runnerup to Walker at the state tournament in 2014 as a senior at Canon McMillan, and Erica Herr’s younger sister Madelein, a freshman who won the 2015 District One title as a senior at Council Rock North. Oh, and Maddy Herr partnered quite famously with Walker at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, reaching the semifinals and the quarterfinals the last two springs.
Walker’s Tar Heels, No. 29 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had the best weekend, an encouraging tie for fourth at 8-over 872, 21 shots back of runaway winner Alabama. And Walker had the best individual finish, ending up tied for 31st at 8-over 224. But it was interesting that their paths all led them there this weekend and it says a lot about the level of talent we got a chance to watch in the first half of this decade in Pennsylvania.
Alabama, meanwhile, validated its No. 3 ranking, with a spectacular final round of 10-under 278 as the Crimson Tide finished at 13-under 851. No. 9 Georgia posted a final round of 1-under 287 to claim runnerup honors at 1-over 865.
No. 20 Baylor matched par in the final round at 288 and took third at 3-over 867. North Carolina, which started with a 2-under 286, finished up with a 3-over 291 to share fourth with ACC and in-state rival North Carolina State at 872. The Wolfpack posted a final round of 2-under 286.
South Carolina finished sixth in the strong 18-team field at 17-over 881, although the Gamecocks were without the services of their best player, senior Katelyn Dambaugh, who was one of the amateurs invited to play in the LPGA’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration.
No. 12 Wake Forest, starting to bounce back from all sorts of adversity, finished ninth at 22-over 886. No. 68 Notre Dame placed 12th at 907 and No. 74 Penn State had its best round of the tournament in the final round, a 301, to finish 14th at 918.
The Bryan National Collegiate was originally scheduled to be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but heavy rain Friday turned it into a two-day event with a double round Saturday.
If you thought the addition of Kristen Gillman, who won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur in the summer before her junior year in high school, to a strong group at Alabama might make the Tide a force to be reckoned with this year, you were right.
Gillman, a freshman from Austin, Texas, ripped off a final round of 6-under 66 over the 6,386-yard, par-72 Champions Course to finish at 8-under 208 and claim the individual title by a shot over North Carolina’s Bryana Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md. Nguyen added a second straight 2-under 69 in the final round after opening with a 71 for a 7-under 209 total.
The Tide got another strong showing from Lauren Stephenson, a sophomore from Lexington, S.C. who finished in a tie for third at 6-under 210. After a strong start with rounds of 69 and 68 Saturday that gave her a two-shot lead in the individual chase, Stephenson cooled off with a 1-over 73 Sunday.
Also for the Tide, Cheyenne Knight, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, matched Gillman’s final-round 66 to finish in a tie for 16th at 2-over 218. Lakareber Abe, a junior from Angleton, Texas, finished tied for 21st at 220 after a final-round 73. And Mia Landegren, a senior from Middletown, Conn., finished tied for 49th at 228 after a final-round 81.
Georgia had a pair of top-10 finishers in Jillian Hollis, a sophomore from Rocky River, Ohio who was in the group tied for third at 6-under 210, and Bailey Tardy, a sophomore from Peachtree Corners, Ga. who finished alone in eighth. Hollis had a final round of 1-under 71 and Tardy, a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team that fell to a strong Great Britain & Ireland squad last year, also had a 1-under 71 Sunday.
Joining Stephenson and Hollis in the trio tied for third at 210 was Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo., Kupcho, bouncing back from a concussion suffered earlier this spring, had a final round of 1-under 71.
Rounding out the top eight in the individual standings were Baylor’s Amy Lee, a junior from Orange County, Calif., and N.C. State’s Leonie Bettel, a sophomore from Austria, both of whom finished in a tie for sixth at 5-under 211. Lee made a big move up the leaderboard with a 6-under 66 Sunday while Bettel carded a 3-under 69 in the final round.
Backing up Nguyen’s outstanding showing for North Carolina was Leslie Cloots, a senior from Belgium who matched par with a 72 in the final round to finish tied for 16th at 2-over 218.
Walker had opened with an even-par 72 and wrapped up with a final-round 77 to finish in the tie for 31st at 224. She was joined in that group by teammate Lexi Harkins, a junior from Crystal Lake, Ill. who posted a 1-over 73 in the final round. Kelly Whaley, a sophomore from Farmington, Conn., had a final-round 77 to finish tied for 42nd at 226.
Two other Tar Heels competed as individuals with Mariana Ocano, a freshman from St. Petersburg, Fla., finishing tied for 69th at 234 and Cheni Xu, a junior China, finishing 88th at 242.
Backing up Kupcho for Wake Forest, the tournament co-host along with North Carolina-Greensboro, was Sierra Sims, a senior from Austin, Texas who also finished in the top 10. Sims, who has been solid all season, had a final-round 73 to finish in a tie for ninth at 3-under 213.
Erica Herr had a final-round 75 to finish tied for 59th at 232.
The Demon Deacons were bolstered by the return to the lineup of Antonia Eberhard, who had been sidelined with a nagging chest muscle injury, and Sierra Brooks, who has been recovering from wrist surgery in December.
Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, was not at her best yet, but joined Herr in the group tied for 59th at 232. Brooks, a freshman from Sorrento, Fla. who was the runnerup in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur, was unable to turn in a card for the opening round, but bounced back with a pair of 77s.
Notre Dame was led by Emma Albrecht, a sophomore from Ormond Beach, Fla. who finished tied for 11th at 216 after a final-round 73. Maddie Rose Hamilton, a sophomore from Louisville, Ky., finished tied for 31st at 224 after a final-round 76.
DiLisio struggled through Saturday’s double round, but rebounded with a 1-under 71 in the final round to finish tied for 66th at 233. Jordan Ferreira, a senior from University Place, Wash., finished alone in 83rd at 239 and Mia Ayer, a freshman from Waco, Texas, finished tied for 89th at 243.
Basso led the way for the Nittany Lions, a final-round 77 enabling her to finish tied for 44th at 227. Waller was another shot back in a tie for 49th at 228 after a solid 2-over 74 in the final round.
Kate Granahan, a graduate student and former Parkland standout, finished in a tie for 59th at 231 with a final-round 77. Rogowicz struggled in Saturday’s double round, but recovered with a final-round 75 to finish tied for 76th at 236. Madelein Herr also struggled during Saturday’s double round, but she too finished up with a solid 3-over 75 Sunday to finish tied for 80th at 238.