The spring portion of the women’s college golf scene teed off with a bang with the start of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and the Lady Puerto Rico Classic Sunday, but a day earlier a solid field at the Florida State Match-Up wrapped up with a victory for South Carolina, No. 7 in the latest Golfstat rankings.
The tournament was originally scheduled to finish Sunday, but a rainy forecast prompted tournament organizers to go to a double-round Friday with a Saturday finish.
The Gamecocks, behind individual champion Ainhoa Olarra, a senior from Spain, opened with a 15-under-par 273 over the 6,212-yard, par-72 Don Veller Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee, Fla. and never looked back, finishing up with a 1-under 287 Saturday for a 16-under 848 total.
Reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State hung tough to finish second, the No. 13 Spartans stringing together under-par rounds of 285, 283 and 285 to finish five shots behind South Carolina at 11-under 853.
The Match-Up also pairs the 12 teams in six duos for an extra level of competition, thus the Match-Up, and South Carolina teamed with Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia, ranked 16th, to take the Match-Up competition with rounds of 350, 353 and 356 for a 1,059 total.
Virginia finished in a tie for third with upstart Coastal Carolina, ranked 75th, at 9-under 855, two shots behind Michigan State. The Cavaliers bounced back from an opening-round 294 with a 9-under 279 in Friday afternoon’s second round before finishing up with a 6-under 282. Coastal Carolina was under par in each round with a pair of 4-under 284s in Friday’s double round and a final round of 1-under 287.
Host Florida State, ranked 31st, was another 13 shots behind Virginia and Coastal Carolina in fifth at 4-over 868. No. 37 Notre Dame, coming off a solid fall campaign, finished seventh at 20-over 884.
Olarra blitzed the Don Veller Seminole layout with an opening round of 6-under 66, added a second-round 69 and finished up with a 1-under 71 for a 10-under 206 total that gave her the individual title.
A little home-course advantage enabled Florida State’s Amanda Doherty, a sophomore from Atlanta, to claim runnerup honors at 8-under 208, two shots behind Olarra. Doherty improved every round, opening with a 1-under 71, adding a 2-under 69 and finishing up with a 3-under 68.
Lois Kaye Go, a sophomore from the Philippines, backed up Olarra for the Gamecocks, finishing tied for 10th at 2-under 214. She matched her teammate’s opening-round 66. Anita Uwadia, a sophomore from Nigeria, finished tied for 12th at 1-under 215 after a final-round 72. Watched her play a couple of holes on the opening day of qualifying in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club. She has a powerful, athletic swing.
Ana Pelaez, a sophomore from Spain, gave the Gamecocks four finishers in the top 15 as she ended up tied for 15th at even-par 216 with steady rounds of 71, 72 and 73. Rounding out the South Carolina lineup was Marion Veysseyre, a junior from France who finished tied for 34th at 223 after a final-round 73.
One of the Big Ten’s top individual players, Michigan State’s Sarah Burnham, a senior from Maple Grove, Minn., headed the group of three players tied for third in the individual chase at 7-under 209, a shot behind Doherty. Burnham, always a threat to go low, struggled in the middle round with a 74, but opened with a 4-under 68 and closed with a 5-under 67.
Burnham was joined at 209 by Coastal Carolina’s Malene Karolboll Hansen, a senior from Denmark who finished up with a 2-under 70, and Missouri’s Clara Young, a senior from Scotland, who closed strong with a 4-under 68.
Burnham’s fellow Spartan Allyson Geer, a sophomore from Brighton, Mich., finished alone in sixth at 6-under 210, including a sparkling 4-under 68 in the second round. And Virginia’s Anna Redding, a junior from Concord, N.C., finished alone in seventh at 5-under 211 with steady rounds of 71, 70 and 70.
Notre Dame was led by Emma Albrecht, a junior from Ormond Beach, Fla., and Abby Heck, a freshman from Memphis, Tenn., both of whom finished among the group tied for 21st at 2-over 218.
Albrecht was invited to the NCAA Columbus Regional as an individual last spring and would like nothing more than to be part of a team contingent at regionals this spring. Albrecht finished up with a 76 after starting strong with rounds of 72 and 70 in Friday’s double-round. Heck finished up with a 75.
Maddie Rose Hamilton, a junior from Louisville, Ky., finished tied for 31st at 222 after a final-round 77 and Mia Ayer, a sophomore from Waco, Texas finished tied for 43rd at 227 after a final-round 76.
It was a tough start to the spring for junior Isabella DiLisio, who won the 2013 PIAA Class AAA championship as a junior at Mount St. Joseph. DiLisio bounced back from an opening-round 83 with rounds of 76 and 78 to finish tied for 62nd at 237.
Notre Dame was paired with Kentucky for the Match-Up competition and they finished fifth of the six teams with rounds of 367, 362 and 377 for a 1,106 total.