MEDINAH, Ill. — Jenny Bae captured medalist honors in record-setting fashion and led the Georgia women’s golf team to the best tournament score in program history at the Illini Invitational on Monday. Bae’s 16-under, 54-hole effort broke the Bulldogs’ individual record by four strokes and helped Georgia better the all-time team mark by five shots.
“Hat’s off to Jenny Bae for her performance, closing with a 66 today and getting her second college win,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “It was fun to watch. I’m super proud of her, but at the same time it was a great team effort and something we’ve trying to build to all fall.”
The Bulldogs closed with a 9-under 279 at Medinah Country Club to complete the tournament at 24-under as a team. That bested the previous school record of 19-under at the 2016 Annika Intercollegiate. Bae’s 16-under tally eclipsed Bailey Tardy’s 12-under score at the 2015 Windy City Collegiate.
“It’s an honor to represent Georgia and to break the school record by four strokes,” Bae said. “I definitely tried my best to play the best that I can but I didn’t have any goal in mind like to shoot 16-under. I just went with the flow. Making a couple of birdies at the start of each round definitely helped me with momentum and focus, but honestly probably half the birdies, Josh and (assistant coach) Ember (Holloway) deserve the credit. If it weren’t for them, I might’ve played something different. Every birdie, I focused on the target I was going to putt to. I didn’t really think about making it.”
Bae’s 6-under effort on Tuesday equaled her best relation-to-par round at Georgia. Earlier this fall, she shot 6-under 65 in the second round of the par-71 Cougar Classic. The Bulldogs also counted a 4-under 68 from Candice Mahé, an even-par 72 from Caterina Don and a 1-over 73 from Jo Hua Hung in the final round.
The Bulldogs played incredibly well late in the day. After returning to No. 1, Georgia’s four counting golfers played their remaining holes at a combined 7-under. In addition to Bae’s birdies, Mahé was 3-under over her final six holes, and Don was 2-under from Nos. 1-4.
“It was nice to have Candice back in the lineup after her performance the last two postseasons,” Brewer said. “She stepped up today and shot 4-under. Jo and Caterina yesterday both shot under par. It’s nice to see that. That’s what it’s going to take if we want to have a special year.”
“I think each and every one of us deserves credit (for the team record),” Bae said. “We all worked out butts off, and every one of us fought to the end whether they were down a little bit or had momentum. I think we all deserve credit.”
Bae finished two strokes clear of runner-up Crystal Wang from Illinois. In addition, Hung tied for 26th at 3-under 213; Don and Mahé both tied for 46th at 217; Isabella Holpfer tied for 58th at 219; and LoraLie Cowart, who was competing as an individual, tied for 68th at 222.
Bae teed off from No. 4 with Tuesday’s shotgun start. She began the day tied for second, a stroke back of Alabama’s Sarah Edwards, but birdied two of her first three holes to begin her move. Bae double-bogeyed No. 11 but quickly regained those strokes with a birdie at No. 11 and an eagle-2 at No. 12. Another birdie at No. 16 gave Bae a two-shot lead. She bogeyed No. 17 and birdied No. 18 before returning to the front side at 14-under overall with three holes to play. Bae birdied No. 2 and No. 3 to secure her second collegiate victory in impressive fashion.
Previously, Bae won medalist honors at the 2021 NCAA Columbus Regional to lead Georgia’s sweep of the team and individual titles two springs ago. Bae’s victory was the 85th in program history for the Bulldogs. She is just the 17th golfer to capture multiple individual titles for Georgia.
“You never take it for granted as a coach,” Brewer said. “Those players end up playing professionally and you see them on TV. You just try to enjoy the ride while we can. It’s nice because Jenny has worked very hard during her time at Georgia and she continues to make sure her name will be in our record books for a long time.”
Bae has now played nine rounds this fall at a combined 27-under, and she has eight par-or-better and six scores in the 60s to date.
Kentucky closed with a 10-under 278 to secure the Illini Invitational team title at 34-under 830. Auburn was second at 835, followed by San Jose State at 836, the Bulldogs at 840, Texas Tech and Northwestern both at 841, Illinois at 842, Alabama at 843, Oklahoma State at 851 and Tennessee at 852.
Georgia will complete the fall portion of its 2022-23 campaign next weekend when the Bulldogs venture to California to compete in the Stanford Intercollegiate next Friday-Sunday.
“We’re excited we get three more chances to post low numbers at our last tournament of the fall,” Brewer said.