That little gathering up in Augusta wasn’t the only big golf tournament going on in the state of Georgia Friday.
In Athens, where the wind was blowing just as hard as was at Augusta National, Georgia, No. 8 in the latest Golfstat rankings, used its home-course advantage at the University of Georgia Golf Course to win medalist honors in qualifying for match play at the 45th Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
It was one day of medal play Friday to set the stage for two days of match play as the Liz Murphey is a compact version of the NCAA Championship, where several of these teams will be headed next month when it is staged at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
The Bulldogs were led by Jillian Hollis, who ripped off a 5-under-par 67 over the 6,300-yard, par-72 UGA layout to claim the individual title.
That helped Georgia record the only sub-300 team score of the day as the Bulldogs finished with a 9-over 297 total and six-shot margin of victory over No. 1 Alabama and No. 52 Denver, which shared second place at 303.
No. 16 Arkansas finished alone in fourth place, a shot behind Alabama and Denver at 304. No. 2 Southern California, No. 19 Oklahoma State and No. 40 Auburn finished tied for fifth at 310. Daytona State, the No. 1 Junior College team in the country, grabbed the final berth in the Red Bracket quarterfinals with a 311 total, edging No. 22 Purdue for that last spot in the championship bracket.
Hollis offset two bogeys with five birdies and an eagle on the par-4 15th hole to grab individual honors. She finished three shots clear of Alabama’s Kristen Gillman, a freshman from Austin, Texas and the 2014 U.S. Women Amateur champion. Gillman, coming off a victory in last weekend’s Bryan National Collegiate in North Carolina, carded a 2-under 70 to claim runnerup honors.
Backing up Hollis for the Bulldogs was Rinko Mitsunaga, a sophomore from Roswell, Ga. who was part of a four-way deadlock for sixth place at 1-over 73. Harang Lee, a senior from Spain, finished tied for 14th with a 76.
Georgia’s final counter was 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team member Bailey Tardy, a sophomore from Peachtree Corners, Ga. who finished tied for 38th with an 81. Mary Ellen Shuman, a senior from St. Simons Island, Ga., finished tied for 43rd with an 82.
Arkansas’ Kaylee Benton, a sophomore from Buckeye, Ariz., was the only other player to finish under par as she claimed third at 1-under 71. Benton’s teammate Cara Gorlei, a sophomore from South Africa, was another shot back in a tie for fourth with an even-par 72.
Sharing fourth with Gorlei was Denver’s Sophie Newlove, a sophomore from England who also matched par. Apparently the windy conditions were favorable for those from the British Isles because Newlove’s teammate Lauren Whyte, a junior from Scotland, was in the group tied for sixth at 1-over 73.
Rounding out the foursome tied for sixth were Purdue’s August Kim, a senior from St. Augustine, Fla., and Daytona State’s Jiwon Jeon, a freshman from South Korea.
Kim’s effort wasn’t quite enough to get the Boilermakers into the Red Bracket, though, as they finished one frustrating shot behind Daytona State.
Backing up Kim for Purdue was Linn Andersson, a junior from Sweden who finished tied for 18th with a 77. Covadonga SanJuan, a sophomore from Spain, finished tied for 33rd with an 80, Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru, finished tied for 43rd with an 82 and Marta Martin, a junior from Spain, finished tied for 53rd with an 85.
Purdue moves into the four-team, round-robin Black Bracket and will take on No. 89 Troy Saturday morning, No. 59 Old Dominion Saturday afternoon and finish up with an intriguing match with No. 11 South Carolina Sunday morning.
Not sure how the coaches decide the individual matchups, but a meeting between two of the top seniors in college golf, Kim, Purdue’s reigning Big Ten individual champion, and South Carolina’s Katelyn Dambaugh, the runnerup in voting for the Annika Award as a junior, might be interesting.
With so many good teams in the Liz Murphey field, some interesting matches are bound to occur and this year is no exception with a really juicy one right out of the gate Saturday morning when No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Southern Cal get it on in the quarterfinals.
The winner of that battle royale will get the winner of Arkansas and Oklahoma State in the semifinals Saturday afternoon. Georgia draws Daytona State in the quarterfinals on the other side of the bracket with the winner of that match getting the winner of the Arkansas-Auburn match in the semifinals.