ATHENS, Ga. — Rumors that Georgia women’s golf coach Josh Brewer has appealed to the Southeastern Conference to change the format of the next month’s SEC Championships can be neither confirmed nor denied.
No one would blame Brewer if he did so following the final round of the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic on Sunday. A “play-10, count-5” option would likely be the suggestion he would send to Birmingham.
Georgia, ranked No. 31 this week, and the Bulldogs’ “B” squad both tied for fifth place in the 50th edition of the Liz Murphey, which featured eight top-25 teams. In the process, the quintets of Bulldogs – comprised of all 10 golfers on Georgia’s roster – tied No. 13 Southern California and defeated No. 11 Texas, No. 17 Arkansas and No. 22 Ole Miss.
“The depth is really good,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “It’s a positive thing to have. It shows how well we’ve done recruiting and these players have worked hard and developed themselves. Now, we just have to get the right nucleus going forward. It creates a little bit of a dilemma because usually in our sport, a team has three or four players it can count on. We just proved we have 10 we can count on. We’ve got find the right group because we still haven’t won this spring. We have the most important events of the season coming up so it would be a good time to start winning.”
Georgia’s “B” team closed with a 4-over 292, the second-best effort of any team in the field on Sunday. The Bulldogs shot 11-over 299. Both teams wrapped up the 54-hole event at 901 along with the Trojans.
Jenny Bae, who will compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur next weekend, led her team with an even-par 72 in the final round. Georgia also counted a 74 by Caterina Don, a 75 by Isabella Holpfer and a 78 by Jo Hua Hung.
Georgia’s “B” team teed off from No. 10 and played the back side of the layout first on Sunday. Those Bulldogs played both halves of the UGA course at 2-over. They got there by counting a career-low, 2-under 70 from freshman LoraLie Cowart, an even-par 72 from Candice Mahé and a pair of 75s, the score posted by Alison Crenshaw, Céleste Dao and Zoë Walker.
Overall, Cowart was Georgia’s top individual finisher, tying for eighth at 4-over 220. In addition, Bae and Mahé tied for 14th at 223; Holpfer and Hung tied for 25th at 227; Don tied for 37th at 229; and the quartet of Craig, Crenshaw, Dao and Walker all tied for 43rd at 231.
No. 4 South Carolina closed with an even-par 288 to secure the team title at 874, eight shots clear of No. 16 Texas A&M. Rounding out the top-10 teams were No. 3 Wake Forest at 888, No. 12 Alabama at 894, the trio of Georgia, Georgia and USC at 901, Arkansas at 910, Mississippi State at 911 and Louisville at 913.
Cowart turned a 1-over after sandwiching bogeys at No. 11 and No. 17 around a birdie at No. 14. She remained at 1-over through 13 holes after a birdie at No. 1 and a bogey at No. 4 but got hot with birdies on No. 6, No. 8 and No. 9 to finish in the red for the first time in her career.
“I started out a little rocky but everything that probably should’ve gone right today did,” Cowart said. “I definitely was like ‘Hey, you’re a good player and you still have holes left to play. Finish it out and finish strong.’ That’s what I did. I was putting to win and trying to put myself in good positions. I had confidence in myself.”
Bae’s loop was a tale of the two sides of the course. She turned at 3-over with bogeys at No. 4, No. 6 and No. 9 but regained those strokes with a trio of birdies at No. 11, No. 12 and No. 13.
“I kind of struggled on the front nine,” Bae said. “I changed my mindset into dividing the front nine and the back nine into two different rounds. I decided I was going to start back at zero. I had nine more holes, they’re brand new holes and you don’t know what’s going to happen so I just continued to grind.”
Mahé turned at even, with at No. 12 and No. 18 countering bogeys at No. 10 and No. 16. She was 2-over through 16 holes after additional bogeys at No. 3 and No. 7 but closed by going birdie-birdie.
The Bulldogs will wrap up their regular-season slate with a match play meeting with Virginia next Sunday at the UGA Golf Course. Georgia will then compete in the SEC Championships on April 13-17 at Greystone Golf and Country Club outside Birmingham. The tournament will feature 54 holes of stroke play qualifying, which also will determine the league’s individual medalist. The top-8 teams will then advance to a seeded bracket for match play to determine the SEC Champion.