Twenty-second ranked Furman (+11) won its second-straight Southern Conference Women’s Golf Championship Monday at the par-72 6,087 yard Savannah Quarters Golf Club in Pooler, Ga.
With the win, the Paladins clinched the SoCon’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA field will be announced live on the Golf Channel during “Golf Central” from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, April 25.
Furman shot rounds of 285 and 292 to claim a 14-shot win over runner-up Chattanooga. The Paladins’ second-round 285 tied for the second-best round in tournament history.
With inclement weather in Tuesday’s forecast, the decision was made to play 36 holes Monday. Furman took a three-stroke lead into play and saw Chattanooga trim it to one midway through the second round before expanding it to a nine-stroke bulge going into the final round. The Paladins picked up another five strokes on the Mocs in the third round to clinch their 15th SoCon title.
The Mocs’ Megan Woods won the individual championship after five playoffs holes after tying with the Paladins’ Alice Chen through regulation. After Chen’s 4-foot par putt missed on the fifth playoff hole, Woods sank a 3-foot par attempt on the par-5 No. 5 to clinch the victory.
Woods and Chen each parred the first three playoff holes, with Woods lipping out a potential winning birdie at No. 3. The duo both birdied the par-3 No. 4, as Chen made a tricky downhill 15-footer before Woods sank one inside 10 feet.
Chen was in command of the tournament late in regulation, having led the first two rounds and holding a five-stroke lead with three holes to play. The sophomore, who was voted the SoCon Co-Player of the Year along with Chattanooga’s Emily McLennan, then bogeyed the par-4 16th before posting double-bogeys on the last two holes, finishing with a 4-over 76 on the day to tie Woods at 2-over 218 for the tournament and send the individual race to extra holes.
The Paladins placed all four counting scores in the top five, with 2015 SoCon medalist Taylor Totland and 2016 SoCon Freshman of the Year Haylee Harford tying for third at 3-over 219 and senior Valentina Romero tying for fifth with McLennan at 5-over 221. Totland, who had Furman’s drop score with an 80 in Sunday’s first round, bounced back in a big way Monday, matching the tournament record with a 4-under 68 in the second round before closing with a 1-under 71 in the third round to leap 14 spots in the standings. Sophomore Jacqueline Bendrick placed 14th with a three-round 231.
“I’m really proud of this team for competing the way they did,” said Furman head coach Kelley Hester, who was named the SoCon Coach of the year for the second-straight season. “Placing four players in the top five is quite an accomplishment. Haylee is our third consecutive freshman of the year, and Alice’s player of the year honor makes two in a row. We really had three players who had a shot at player of the year, and it just came down to a shot or two for Alice, Taylor, and Haylee. Ultimately, we needed to play solid gold over three rounds, and we did just that with a total team effort.”