Building off its momentum from an impressive team victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Invitational, Florida cruised to the team title at its tournament, the Gator SunTrust Invitational, which wrapped up Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla.
It was the third straight year Florida has won the Gator SunTrust, but it might have been the most impressive of the three as its even-par 840 total was a tournament record, beating the mark of 847 established by last year’s Southeast Conference championship squad. It was the first time in the 46-year history of the event that a team was able to match par.
The leading lady for Florida was again Sierra Brooks, the sophomore transfer from Wake Forest who was coming off an individual title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Regular followers of this blog are familiar with the saga of Brooks, the runnerup in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur and a member of the 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team.
After a lost year at Wake Forest that was shortened by injury, Brooks of Orlando, Fla. hit the reset button and transferred back to her home state, becoming eligible at the start of the spring semester.
Florida coach Emily Glaser wasn’t sure how Brooks was going to fit in with a Florida program reeling from the loss of four players to the professional ranks from one of the best teams in college golf in 2016-’17. She did not need to worry. Brooks has been a great player and a great teammate.
Brooks had her worst round of the weekend in Sunday’s final round, an even-par 70, after firing a pair of 69s in Saturday’s double-round for a 2-under 208 total that gave her sole possession of second place.
Brooks was the top Division I finisher, though, because the individual title was won by Jiwon Jeon, a sophomore from South Korea at junior college power Daytona State College. Jeon mastered the 6,002-yard, par-70 Mark Bostick layout with rounds of 68 and 66 in Saturday’s double-round and added a 1-under 69 Sunday for a 7-under 203 total.
Florida, which has moved up to No. 12 in the latest Golfstat rankings, started fast with a 1-under 279 and then matched par in Saturday afternoon’s second round with a 280. A final round of 1-over 281 left the Gators at even-par 840.
Furman, the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 7, and No. 44 Campbell finished tied for second, 12 shots behind the Gators at 12-over 852. Furman finished up with a 3-over 283. Campbell surged into contention with a tournament record single round of 4-under 276 in Saturday’s second round to get itself in contention before posting an 8-over 288 in Sunday’s final round.
No. 40 Tennessee was another five shots behind the co-runnerups in fourth at 17-over 857 after finishing up with a 10-over 290. No. 74 Oregon came across the country to Gainesville and grabbed fifth, 10 shots behind Tennessee at 867 after posting a 9-over 289 in the final round. No. 35 Clemson finished sixth in the 13-team field, a shot behind Oregon at 28-over 868 after finishing up with a 295.
Florida had two more players finish in the top five and all five members of its starting lineup ended up inside the top 20. Elin Esborn, a redshirt freshman from Sweden, was a shot behind Brooks in third with solid rounds of 71, 68 and 70 for a 1-under 209 total.
Marta Perez, a sophomore from Spain, was one of four players tied for fifth at 2-over 212, finishing up with a 1-under 69.
Addie Baggarty, a freshman from Jonesborough, Tenn., finished tied for 13th at 4-over 214, her effort highlighted by a 2-under 68 in Saturday morning’s opening round. And veteran home girl Taylor Tomlinson, a senior from Gainesville, Fla., finished tied for 18th at 6-over 216, her 2-over 72 in the final round a counter for the Gators.
Campbell was led by Annelie Sjoholm, a senior from Sweden who finished alone in fourth in the individual chase at 2-over 211. Sjoholm opened with a 2-under 68 before adding rounds of 70 and 73.
Furman was led by Reona Hirai, a senior from Summerville, S.C. who joined Perez in the group tied for fifth at 2-over 212. Hirai had solid rounds of 69, 72 and 71.
Rounding out the foursome tied for fifth at 212 were Oregon’s Petra Salko, a junior from Finland, and Mississippi’s Katy Harris, a sophomore from St. Simons Island, Ga. Salko opened with a 2-under 68 and added rounds of 73 and 71 while Harris moved up the leaderboard in the final round with a 2-under 68 that was the best round of the day.